A gunman has opened fire inside an Oregon shopping mall, killing at least two people before shooting himself to death in the latest string of shooting rampages in the United States.
The Tuesday afternoon shooting rampage took place at the Clackamas Town Centre, a suburban town on the southern fringe of Portland, in the middle of the Christmas shopping season.
“I can confirm that we believe at this point that there was one and only one shooter involved and that that shooter is deceased,” Clackamas County Sheriff’s spokesman Lieutenant James Rhodes told a press briefing.
“In addition to that, we have at least one patient who was taken from the mall with a traumatic injury and at least two that were deceased in addition to the shooter”, added Rhodes.
The identities of the dead and wounded were not immediately released.
Rhodes said later that the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that police had not fired a single shot inside the mall.
The wounded victim was taken by helicopter to a hospital where a spokeswoman said she was in a serious condition.
In a statement, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber said: “my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families… I have directed State Police to make any and all necessary resources available to local law enforcement”.
Witnesses said the gunman opened fire several times while on the second floor of the shopping centre, near the food court and Macy’s department store.
High school student Hannah Baggs, 14, told The Oregonian newspaper that she got a close look at the gunman before he entered the mall and opened fire.
“He was, like, 10 feet away from us, wearing a white mask and carrying something heavy with both hands,” Baggs said in remarks carried on the newspaper’s website. “He went running into the store.”
Police evacuated terrified shoppers, who were reported by local media and via Twitter to have hidden in the back rooms of shops as gunshots rang out in the mall.
“Shooting in the middle of clackamas town center. I’m stuck in the back room of build a bear!” one person tweeted.
Police have recovered a gun, but said they were still searching the mall for any other evidence, as well as anyone who had locked themselves inside a store during the alert.
The incident marked the latest in a string of shooting rampages this year that included the killing of 12 people and wounding of 58 others at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado.