Clackamas Town Center reopens after attack

Workers, shoppers return to shooting site




PORTLAND — The Clackamas Town Center reopened Friday, three days after a gunman killed two people and wounded a third in a holiday crowd estimated at 10,000 people.

The parking lot at the suburban Portland mall was jammed by mid-afternoon as news of another, much deadlier shooting spree came from Connecticut.

“I definitely think that, as a whole, we need to pay more attention to the people close to us,” said Sierra Delgado, 36, a mother of four from Happy Valley, Ore. “Because I think there are always a lot of signs prior to things happening.”

Delgado said people need to be less self-absorbed, and “reach out to people who we think might be spiraling into the abyss.”

The mall was closed Wednesday and Thursday as officers investigated and contractors repaired damage. Clackamas County authorities are still trying to determine why Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, opened fire before killing himself.

In good news Friday, Kristina Shevchenko, 15, the girl injured in the shooting, was upgraded from serious to fair condition at a Portland hospital.

Among the shoppers gathered for the mall’s reopening was Marion Hango, 84, of Clackamas, Ore., 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.”

Security precautions were intensified for the reopening, the sheriff’s office said.

At a news conference before the stores opened, mall general manager Dennis Curtis declined to estimate how much the closure had cost in lost sales. Many retailers depend on holiday shopping for roughly 40 percent of their annual revenue. “It’s really hard at this time to focus on profits and sales,” he said.

Steve Foltz, who owns the Cinnabon and Jamba Juice franchises in the food court, said he gets chills talking about his employees’ quick thinking during the crisis. They hit the floor, crawled to the back room and turned off the ringers on cellphones, he said.

Foltz said it’s important to reopen because his workers need money to buy Christmas presents and pay their rent and bills. Though the two-day shutdown will likely affect his bottom line, Foltz recalled that businesses survived a snowstorm that closed the mall a few years ago. “If business was easy, everybody would do it,” he said. “And it’s not. We just have to deal with it.”

There were few signs of the shooting. At one point, three young women entered the mall and stood frozen for several seconds. One, who declined to be interviewed, started crying as her friends consoled her. The tears dried, and the women headed to the stores.

Words of support are written on silver and red stars on a glass railing at the mall court. Customers are encouraged to add messages; the display will remain through the holiday season. One star reads: “Forever in our hearts.” Another says: “12-11-12 never forget.”