PORTLAND, Ore. — A gunman opened fire in a suburban Portland shopping mall Tuesday, killing two people and wounding another as people were doing their Christmas shopping, authorities said.
Witnesses described a scene of chaos and disbelief as a gunman wearing some sort of camouflage outfit and what looked like a hockey mask fired rounds from a military-style rifle near the food court at Clackamas Town Center.
Parents with children joined other shoppers rushing to stores’ backrooms for safety as teams of police officers began entering the mall to find the shooter.
Clackamas County sheriff’s Lieutenant James Rhodes said later that the gunman was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A shopper told KATU-TV he saw a man lying on the floor with a gun next to him.
Authorities went store-to-store to confirm that there was only one shooter and to escort hiding shoppers outside,
Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy’s, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest.
He heard the gunman say, ‘‘I am the shooter,’’ as if announcing himself, Patty said. The gunman then fired several shots seconds apart. Rapid-fire shots in short succession followed. Patty said he ducked to the ground and then ran.
His Macy’s co-worker, Pam Moore, said the gunman was short, with dark hair, and dressed in camouflage.
‘‘I heard about 20 shots and everyone hit the ground,’’ Moore said.
Witnesses said the mall’s Santa Claus was among those who ducked for cover.
The mall is one of the Portland area’s busiest. It’s in a middle-class area that has become popular with families as falling real estate prices have put its homes just a few miles from downtown Portland within financial reach.