PORTLAND, Ore. - A gunman wearing a white mask and camouflage shot and killed two people and badly wounded a third before taking his life at a shopping mall filled with 10,000 holiday shoppers near Portland, Ore., Tuesday afternoon.
"There was a huge amount of people running in different directions, and it was chaos for a lot of citizens," Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said at a Tuesday night news briefing.
The terror at the Clackamas Town Center mall began about 3:30 p.m. PST as multiple 911 calls reporting the shooting flooded the Sheriff's Office.
"I threw my baby into the stroller and just started running, because everybody was screaming," a mother said after mayhem ended.
Witnesses recalled seeing a man in a bullet-proof vest with an assault rifle, saying: "I am the shooter."
"I heard, 'I am the shooter' and then I heard five or six rounds just echoing," a man recalled.
"We had people at the mall within minutes. Teams were deployed, responding quickly to basically hunt down and find this guy in the mall," Roberts said.
The gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot, said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Adams Phillips. Investigators have tentatively identified the shooter, but are not releasing his name until it's confirmed.
In addition to the two fatal victims, who were not identified, a woman was wounded and rushed to an area hospital.
"We've got a young lady in the hospital fighting for her life right now," Roberts said.
"We had some true heroes stepping up," added the sheriff, who praised emergency room nurses and a doctor who were at the mall for treating the wounded.
The Clackamas Town Center mall is located southeast of Portland, along Interstate 205.
Nearly 100 local, state and federal law enforcement officials conducted a painstaking search of every corner of the mall, which covers 1.4 million square feet. They were looking for anyone who may be wounded or hiding and ruling out the possibility of other shooters.
Given the evolving investigation, Phillips said authorities couldn't rule out possible accomplices.
Agents from the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting in the investigation.
ABC affiliate KATU reports a witness named Evan Walters said at least two people were shot, and that he saw sheets put over them. Helicopter video from that station showed ambulances and police outside the mall near a Macy's storefront and a Century movie theater.
Another witness, Amber Tate, told KATU she saw people screaming and parents grabbing their children as they fled the mall. She also said the gunman was wearing camouflage and what appeared to be a bulletproof vest.
Witnesses told the Associated Press the shooter was short, with dark hair, dressed in camouflage, had body armor and a rifle and was wearing a white mask.
"I was just praying that no one was dead, and that we would live," a young woman said.
People fleeing the shooting left behind strollers, purses, jackets, cellphones and keys, Phillips said.
He reassured shoppers, "Your stuff is secure where it is tonight," adding that it will take time for authorities to reunite the items with their owners.