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Hugs and prayers, hope and anger: Vigil held at Drake Park for Bend Safeway shooting victims

(Update: Adding video of Monday evening vigil)

Funds raised for sister of shooting victim; slain worker hailed as hero; shopper heard dozens of shots, thought 'I was going to die'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Sunday night's Safeway shooting on Bend's Eastside resulted in the tragic deaths of a customer at the front of the store and employee in the produce section at the rear who is being hailed as a hero for trying to wrestle the gun away.

Hours after police gave new insight into what took place, a vigil was held Monday evening at Drake Park, hosted by Central Oregon Moms Demand Action, to honor both Bend men and share hugs, tears and a swirl of emotions, from sadness and frustration to anger and a commitment to seek change and prevent future tragedies. More than 100 people were on hand.

Bend resident Glenn Bennett, 84, was shopping at the store and was near the front entrance when he was fatally shot. A GoFundMe page says Glen lived with his sister and helped pay for their home.

Moments later, a Safeway employee, 66-year-old Donald Surrett Jr., was also shot and killed in the rear of the store, in the produce section. Police say Surrett engaged with the shooter in an attempt to disarm him. His efforts may have helped prevent further deaths.

“Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible incident," Bend police Communications Manager Sheila Miller said at Monday's news conference.

Surrett's sister-in-law also has created a GoFundMe page to assist with expenses.

Debora Jean Surrett, the ex-wife of the Safeway employee killed in the attack, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that Surrett served in the Army for 20 years as a combat engineer.

He wasn’t deployed to active combat zones, but during the 20 years they were married from 1975 to 1995, they were stationed in Germany three times and lived on military bases across the U.S.

“They’re trained to be the first ones to go into war and the last ones to come home,” she told the AP.

People who were in the area when gunfire broke out Sunday night came back Monday to retrieve any property they left there, including cars and bikes.

Bend resident Laura Patterson said she was hiding inside a Safeway office when the shooting broke out and returned Monday to retrieve her wallet today, which she dropped while she was running for safety.

Here is her account of what happened:

“I was in, cashing a Scratch-It (lottery ticket) because I won $30 in Safeway. And I cashed it, and there wasn’t Scratch-Its available at the counter. So I moved over to where the machine is, to the left, which is towards 27th (Street) and I put $20 in the machine.

"One of the employees, a young gentleman with blonde hair, came running in from the exit near 27th and told Sophia, the manger, 'Sophia, someone’s shooting in the parking lot!' Of course I stopped, I saw her go out. She turned around and ran back in.

"I heard a couple (of gunshots) out there -- I could hear them, and then it was coming in. So I ran back into an office, right there. Somebody was shutting the door, and I ran in there and got under a desk and sat there and sobbed.

"It was so loud -- I heard 25 or more shots, and I thought they were at the door of the office because I have not been around gunshots before. When it got quiet, the gentleman with me went and knocked on the door a couple times, and we waited. I did hear somebody yell, 'Get down on the ground!' earlier, and I assumed it was the police, because I heard sirens."

I asked Patterson what thoughts were was running through her head as she heard the gunfire.

“I was going to die," Patterson said.

Patterson said her brother-in-law and sister also were at the scene and were not injured. 



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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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