(Update: Added Monday Night Vigil Video)
Money raised for sister of shooting victim; slain worker hailed as hero; shopper heard dozens of shots, thought ‘I’m going to die’
BEND, Oregon (KTVZ) — Sunday night’s Safeway shooting on Bend’s Eastside resulted in the tragic death of a customer at the front of the store and an employee in the product section at the back who is being hailed a hero for trying to wrestle the gun away.
Hours after police provided new insight into what happened, a vigil was held Monday night in Drake Park, hosted by Central Oregon Moms Demand Action, to honor both Bend men and share hugs, tears and a whirl of emotions, from sadness and frustration to anger and a commitment to seek change and prevent future tragedies. More than 100 people were present.
Bend resident Glenn Bennett, 84, was shopping at the store and was at the main entrance when he was fatally shot. A GoFundMe page states that Glen lived with his sister and helped pay for their house.
Moments later, a Safeway employee, 66-year-old Donald Surrett Jr., was also shot dead in the back of the store, in the product department. Police say Surrett had contact with the gunman in an attempt to disarm him. His efforts may have helped prevent further deaths.
“Mr. Surrett has acted heroically in this horrific incident,” Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller said at Monday’s news conference.
Surrett’s sister-in-law has also created a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
Debora Jean Surrett, the ex-wife of the Safeway employee who died in the attack, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Surrett served 20 years in the military as a combat engineer.
He was not deployed to active combat zones, but during their 20 years of marriage from 1975 to 1995, they were stationed in Germany three times and lived on military bases in the US.
“They are trained to be the first to go to war and the last to come home,” she told the AP.
People who were in the area when gunshots broke out Sunday night returned Monday to retrieve all of the belongings they had left there, including cars and bicycles.
Bend resident Laura Patterson said she was hiding in a Safeway office when the shooting broke out and returned Monday to retrieve her wallet, which she dropped as she fled for safety.
Here’s her account of what happened:
“I entered and cashed in a Scratch-It (lottery ticket) because I won $30 in Safeway. And I cashed it, and there were no Scratch-Its available at the counter. So I went to where the machine is, to the left, that’s toward 27th (Street) and I put $20 in the machine.
“One of the staff, a young gentleman with blond hair, came running from the exit at 27th and told Sophia, the manger, ‘Sophia, someone is shooting in the parking lot!’ Of course I stopped, I saw her go out, she turned and ran back in.
“I heard some (gunshots) in there – I could hear them, and then it came in. So I ran back to an office, over there. Someone closed the door, and I ran in and got under a desk and sat there to sob.
“It was so loud — I heard 25 or more shots, and I thought they were outside the office door, because I’ve never been near gunshots before. When it fell silent, the gentleman who came to me and knocked on the door a few times, and we waited, I heard someone yell, ‘Get on the floor!’ earlier, and I assumed it was the police, because I heard sirens.”
I asked Patterson what thoughts went through her mind when she heard the gunfire.
“I died,” Patterson said.
Patterson said her brother-in-law and sister were also at the scene and were not injured.