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CCC student writes about Town Center shooting *WEB EXCLUSIVE

Graham Smith, CCC Student
Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2012

*The following is a personal account of the Clackamas Town Center Shooting written by a Clackamas Community College student. This article has not been censored or edited to protect its integrity.*

The Pallet Dropped and Everybody Ran

The shopping season was upon us on the afternoon of the eleventh. I was with my father as we shopped at Clackamas Town Center. Obtaining Christmas gifts for two of my family members, my father and I made plans to head for Kitchen Kaboodle; with the minor detail of the fact that we went to the food court first because my father said he needed to use the restroom. While he was handling that, I loitered by a fire extinguisher out in the food court. During my act of waiting, as 3:30 pm was approaching, I “people-watched” and pondered the interactions of people buying food at a nearby restaurant. I did not have much time to do said pondering, however, as I heard what sounded like a pallet dropping; although, it had a deeper ring than that of something dropping. Every living thing looked towards where the sound came from, that is, the other side of the food court. Few seconds past and more pallets dropped with severe violence and reckless disregard for all human well-being. It was then that I knew it was a gun. The sound reverberated through the mall as people got down near the cold, granite-like floor; an act which I followed. I could not see the source of the firing; I could only see the reactions of everyone else (their reactions being pure fear). As the pallets rang through the place (torturing the soul of every living thing, rendering the place into a netherworld of screams and utter horror), I saw that people around me were heading for a nearby emergency exit. I got up, ran with all my might, and followed, my body functioning on pure adrenalin, the sound of violence pervading the air behind me. Fear was not within me, only focus; the focus on the fact that I must leave the mall and save myself. I ran, gripping my shopping bags. A man running beside me screamed words to a woman (most likely his girlfriend) that I fear (and somewhat hope) will stay with me throughout my life, “If you want to live, you’ll run!” I am omitting the expletives of course. It seemed like hundreds were leaving the mall and driving away. I remember very clearly that a man bumped into me and dropped his car keys (I hope he got them back).

As I made it to the parking lot, I grabbed my cell phone and frantically jabbed at the buttons to dial 911. The operator of course informed me that they had already received reports of the matter. I heard sirens coming hither (praise be to God). My father had not left with me unfortunately (it turns out he was hiding out in the restroom with many other people) and his phone was at home charging. In response to this fact, I called my mother to inform her of the events. She called back minutes later to inform me that my father was fine (my father had called on a borrowed cell phone) and I should head to the car where he would meet me. As I left for the car amidst a family offering to give me a ride, police were arriving. There were a lot of police. Rather, I mean to say that it seemed like the entire county had focused its total police force at one point. As I walked, two police cars pulled up near me and an officer said, “Let’s set up our [word rhyming with “it”] here.” These officers made me feel slightly safer.

I finally made it back to the car and met up with my father (after waiting for about five minutes) who had an even more frightening adventure than my own (he walked through the mall to get out, seeing very horrific sights on that journey). He stated that he had been worried about me; in fact, he seemed to be much more jarred by the event (when we made it home he drank a large amount of wine). We left. As we were driving away I had two ponderings: one, I had saved the Christmas presents, and two, I probably was going to be unable to shop at Clackamas Town Center for the rest of the holiday season. Later though, I woke up to the fact that I had survived that which happens on the news. I had survived the pallet drop, the balloon pop, and the gunshot. My very person hopes that I will thank God fervently everyday for letting me live out my pitiful life for a little longer.

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