People all over the region today tried to make sense of last night's tragedy, after a gunman opened fire on a mall busy with shoppers.
Educators at La Salle College Preparatory, located less than a mile from Clackamas Town Center, helped students focus their prayer on those affected by the shooting.
Yesterday, after a masked man killed two people, injured another, and then turned the gun on himself, La Salle was notified almost instantaneously by students and parents who were shopping and working at the mall.
“As soon as we got the information, we locked down the perimeter,” said Tom Dudley, principal of the school.
Some students at the school witnessed different parts of the events, and most want to remain anonymous.
Hannah Baggs, a La Salle freshman, told the Oregonian that she looked directly at the shooter — now identified as 22-year-old Jacob Roberts of southeast Portland — as she left the mall. He was wearing a mask and “carrying something heavy,” she said.
“As we try to make some sense of the tragic events that happened yesterday, it is important to be mindful and sensitive of the needs of each person in our school, remembering that most of us experienced at least some degree of fear, anxiety, and helplessness upon learning of what was happening,” Dudley said to students this morning.
Gary Hortsch, director of campus ministry, began a school liturgy by addressing the tragedy.
“No less than a mile away from where we are gathered, people’s lives were forever changed,” he said. “Slowly we have started the process of telling our stories of where we were as we try to make sense of violence that ensued. Some members of our community were at the mall when the chaos erupted. Others of us had family members and loved ones we knew either working or visiting at the mall. All of us knew that there was the potential for this tragedy to directly impact the people we hold dear to our hearts as we contacted each other to be sure everyone was safe.”
Victims of the shooting were Steve Forsyth, of West Linn, and Cindy Yuille, of northeast Portland, who were both killed, and Kristina Shevchenko, who was taken to Oregon Health & Science University hospital in serious condition.
Dispatchers began receiving 9-1-1 calls around 3:30 p.m., when Roberts entered the mall wearing a facemask and carrying an AR-15 assault rifle.
The mall will continue to be closed as the investigation continues, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office.
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon issued a statement lamenting "the tragedy of violence resulting in death, wounding and terror."
The Rev. LeRoy Haynes, president of the EMO board of directors, called on believers to pray for victims' families and loved ones and for the perpetrator's family. Rev. Haynes gave thanks for police, medical teams and mall staff for courage and quick response, "making clear that we will not be paralyzed by fear in the face of sudden violence."
Rev. Haynes cited lack of resources to treat mental illness. "At this time in our society," he said, "we must be willing to tackle these hard issues together in order to foster healing and help prevent future tragedies."