CLACKAMAS, Ore. - The Clackamas Town Center opened to the public Friday morning, three days after a gunman terrorized shoppers and store employees in a deadly shooting spree.
The doors opened around 7 a.m. to the early morning mall walking crowd and stores began opening at 9 a.m. for shoppers. Security precautions were intensified to help mall-goers feel safe.
Donald Dixon was one of the mall walkers who showed up early Friday. He's been walking the Clackamas Town Center for years with friends and said he was not nervous about coming back.
"Oh no," he said. "It could happen anywhere. You could be walking down the street or in your car and something could happen."
Dixon said he was, however, shocked by the events that unfolded earlier in the week.
"I couldn't believe what happened," he said. "I didn't see how it could happen. He was so young, that's what really shocked me."
Another mall walker who showed up early Friday morning said he and his wife, who joins him on regular walks at the Clackamas Town Center, were not hesitant about coming back.
"If lightning strikes it's not like the next day you're going to get struck again," Jerry Baumgartner said. "It's so tragic what happened but you can't just say 'well, I'm not going to go there anymore.' It can happen anywhere. That's just the society we are living in any more."
We asked Jerry and his wife, Peggy, whether it felt a little eerie to walk through the mall doors on Friday.
"Kind of," Peggy said. "You wonder where the people who died were."
"We didn't know whether there was going to be a lot of damage or if it would be all fixed up," Jerry said.
Another mall walker, Nancy Dietl, had a haunting encounter with one of the victims who died, Steve Forsyth.
"We were here that morning," she said. "I saw that man at the kiosk who was killed. Just walking by I thought oh, OK, he is setting up his kiosk."
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the mall entrance near Starbucks.
Among the shoppers gathered for the 9 a.m. opening was Marion Hango of Clackamas, who said she wanted to be there to support the workers.
"I've been thinking about it for several days, just like everybody else," she said. "But I felt it was necessary, not just for me, but for everybody else, the people who work here.
"My daughter was going to order something off the Internet for my grandson, and I said, 'No, I'm going to buy it at the mall, just to help them,'" she said.
Debbie Chapin came with her husband, Dan, to the mall when it opened Friday morning. Debbie is such a regular at the mall that her husband joked she calls Nordstrom "church."
"It’s important for people to return as soon as possible," Debbie Chapin said. She said people need to respect the victims, but also find a sense of normalcy.
"We wanted to come and support the mall before Christmas," she added. Debbie also left a note in a book set up to leave condolences.
"We can’t stop our daily lives, we have to go on in respect of those people that had all the losses," Dan Chapin said.
"I just hope that the guests come back," said Steve Foltz, who runs the Cinnabon, Jamba Juice and Seattle's Best franchises at the mall. "I think it's the safest mall in town now with what the mall has done. I just hope shoppers get back to helping all of us heal."
Dennis Curtis, General Manager for the Clackamas Town Center, said there are over 50 grief counselors for workers. A few shops did remain closed on Friday.
Diane Wehage, a victim's advocate for the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office, said the people who were affected the most by what happened were those who were in or near the food court where the shots were fired.
"Things will never be like they were before for them, or for the community, but we have to help them find a new normal, whatever that will look like," Wehage said. "(We have to) help them get some control back in their lives."
"We appeared at one store and they said 'no, no, no, I'm fine.' But the crisis responder just asked a few simple questions and she totally fell apart," Wehage said. "People are trying to hold together, but when you give them permission to let it out, they do. That's what needs to happen."
Anyone who needs help can call the county's 24-hour line at (503) 655-8616. There are funds available to help people get counseling.
Words of support — written on silver and red stars — have been placed on the glass railing that surrounds the center of the mall court. Customers are encouraged to add messages to the display, which will remain through the holiday season. One of the stars reads: "Forever in our hearts." Another says: "12-11-12 never forget."
The Day of the Shooting
The shooting happened Tuesday afternoon. Investigators say 22-year-old Jacob Roberts, carrying an AR-15 rifle and wearing a hockey mask, made his way through the Clackamas Town Center shooting at customers and employees before finally turning the gun on himself.
Police and medics respond to the Clackamas Town Center on Tuesday Dec. 11, 2012.
Roberts would have likely shot more people but his rifle jammed mid-way through his shooting spree, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. He was, however, able to get it firing again.
The Oregon state medical examiner's office determined Forsyth died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Yuille died of a single gunshot wound to the back and Roberts shot himself in the head.
Toxicology results for Roberts are still pending.
Curtis said the mall did have a plan in place in case something like this happened and that "the plan worked - absolutely." He called his security staff and employees "heroes" for their response.
School Shooting in Connecticut
The same day that the Clackamas Town Center opened its doors, a gunman walked into a Connecticut elementary school and opened fire in what is now among the world's worst mass shootings. Here is a look at some others:
- Aug. 5, 2012: Army veteran Wade Michael Page kills five men and one woman and wounds three other people, including a police officer, before taking his own life at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin outside Milwaukee.
- July 20, 2012: At least 12 people are killed when a gunman enters an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, releases a canister of gas and then opens fire during opening night of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises." James Holmes, a 24-year-old former graduate student at the University of Colorado, has been charged in the deaths.
- March 11, 2012: Sixteen Afghan villagers, including nine children, are killed during a predawn attack in which Army prosecutors have charged Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39.
- July 22, 2011: Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik kills 77 in Norway in twin attacks: a bombing in downtown Oslo and a shooting massacre at a youth camp outside the capital. The self-styled anti-Muslim militant admitted both attacks.
- Nov. 5, 2009: Thirteen soldiers and civilians were killed and more than two dozen wounded when a gunman walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, and opened fire. Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
- April 30, 2009: Farda Gadyrov, 29, enters the prestigious Azerbaijan State Oil Academy in the capital, Baku, armed with an automatic pistol and clips. He kills 12 people before killing himself as police close in.
- March 10, 2009: Michael McLendon, 28, killed 10 people — including his mother, four other relatives, and the wife and child of a local sheriff's deputy — across two rural Alabama counties. He then killed himself.
- Sept. 23, 2008: Matti Saari, 22, walks into a vocational college in Kauhajoki, Finland, and opens fire, killing 10 people and burning their bodies with firebombs before shooting himself fatally in the head.
- Nov. 7, 2007: After revealing plans for his attack in YouTube postings, 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen fires kills eight people at his high school in Tuusula, Finland.
- April 16, 2007: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, kills 32 people and himself on Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.
- April 26, 2002: Robert Steinhaeuser, 19, who had been expelled from school in Erfurt, Germany, kills 13 teachers, two former classmates and policeman, before committing suicide.
- April 20, 1999: Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school's library.
- April 28, 1996: Martin Bryant, 29, bursts into cafeteria in seaside resort of Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia, shooting 20 people to death. Driving away, he kills 15 others. He was captured and imprisoned.
- March 13, 1996: Thomas Hamilton, 43, kills 16 kindergarten children and their teacher in elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and then kills himself.
- Oct. 16, 1991: A deadly shooting rampage took place in Killeen, Texas, as George Hennard opened fire at a Luby's Cafeteria, killing 23 people before taking his own life. 20 others were wounded in the attack.
- June 18, 1990: James Edward Pough shoots people at random in a General Motors Acceptance Corp. office in Jacksonville, Fla., killing 10 and wounding four, before killing himself.
- Dec. 6, 1989: Marc Lepine, 25, bursts into Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique college, shooting at women he encounters, killing nine and then himself.
- Aug. 19, 1987: Michael Ryan, 27, kills 16 people in small market town of Hungerford, England, and then shoots himself dead after being cornered by police.
- July 12, 1976: Edward Charles Allaway, a custodian in the library of California State University, Fullerton, fatally shot seven fellow employees and wounded two others.
- Aug. 20, 1986: Pat Sherrill, 44, a postal worker who was about to be fired, shoots 14 people at a post office in Edmond, Okla. He then kills himself.
- July 18, 1984: James Oliver Huberty, an out-of-work security guard, kills 21 people in a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif. A police sharpshooter kills Huberty.
- Aug. 1, 1966: Charles Whitman opened fire from the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, killing 16 people and wounding 31.
KATU.com Executive Producer John Tierney, KATU Reporter Lincoln Graves and the Associated Press contributed to this report.