PORTLAND — The man who killed two people and wounded another at a suburban Oregon mall bought more than 100 rounds of ammunition and magazines to carry them in the days before the December attack, according to a sheriff’s report released Wednesday.
Jacob Roberts, 22, fired into crowds of people at the Clackamas Town Center outside of Portland before killing himself on Dec. 11.
The nearly 1,000-page report details the ammunition purchases and also gives new witness accounts that reflect the chaos of the scene amid the backdrop of a mall at peak Christmas shopping season.
Deputies from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office found people outside the building “in a trance,” Deputy Mark Nikolai wrote in an incident report. He and several other deputies separated into “hunting cells” and made their way through the mall.
Nikolai walked past an empty AR-15 magazine and came upon Nicolas A. Meli, a bystander armed with a handgun.
Meli told police after the shooting that he had a clear shot at Roberts, but was afraid he would miss and shoot someone else.
“I didn’t want to draw attention to myself because if I was to miss ... I didn’t want stray (bullets) to go into where (bystanders) were,” Meli told police in an interview later.
Kelly Lay of St. Helens, Ore., was in front of a food-court Mexican restaurant when he heard gunfire and watched rounds hitting the tile above the menu board over his head. He glanced over and saw the man police believe was Roberts. He was dressed in black with a white hockey mask. Lay later told an officer that it didn’t seem like the shooter was aiming at anyone in particular.
Cindy Yuille and Steven Forsythe were killed in the attack, and 15-year-old Kristina Shevchenko was injured.
Roberts got the gun from a friend, Sean Cates, according to previously released court documents. Cates reported the gun stolen after the attack.
The new report gave more details about Roberts’ actions before the attack.
The morning of the shooting, Roberts’ roommate, Jaime Eheler, said she noticed something off about him.
“Just something wasn’t right. The look in his eyes,” Eheler told investigators.
Eheler compared it to a person on stimulants whose eyes “get a little bugged out.”
Just before the shooting, Roberts visited Eheler’s brother, Tyler, and gave him the cancer-awareness bracelet he wore and told him he was leaving because things were “heading south.”
Roberts’ roommates discovered empty boxes of ammunition in his room. They looked online and found that the ammunition matching the boxes could be used for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. At about 7 p.m. on the night of the shooting, one of the roommates called the sheriff’s office tip line and said they believed Roberts was the shooter.
Police reached no conclusions about Roberts’ motive. A toxicology report showed Roberts had marijuana and residual levels of cocaine in his system when he died.
Officers asked Eheler, his roommate, and she, too, was at a loss for answers for why it happened.
“I mean, can you think of anything,” a detective asked her, “that would make him snap or do this?”
“The only thing I can come up with,” she said, “is he has nobody besides me and my family.”