WLHS students among eyewitnesses of Clackamas shooting

Several members of the West Linn community, including current students, former students and parents, found themselves in the midst of the deadly shooting at Clackamas Town Center on Dec. 11. Some were in the mall at the time; some arrived at the mall as the fallout was unfolding. All were shocked and afraid.
Sarah Chung, junior, was driving to the parking lot with family members at the time of the shooting.  At around 3:30 p.m., there was an outpouring of police cars, especially concentrated around the mall.
“It was rush hour-ish,” Chung said, “but it got 10 times worse when the police cars came rushing past.  Literally, once a police car came past us, five others came behind it.”
Chung is shocked at not just the circumstances, but at the timing of her arrival.
“Had we been there 10 minutes earlier, we would’ve been in the mall, in the food court,” Chung said. “I’m just relieved that we weren’t in there, but I’m sorry for the people that got caught in that situation.”
Trevor Benya, Class of 2011, was working in Victoria’s Secret when the shooting began.
“As I was about to make a phone call for a customer,” Benya said, “we heard what sounded like a table being dropped from the second floor down to the first. We stopped, and it happened a few more times, which is when and some other co-workers and I realized they were gunshots.”
Benya’s co-workers headed towards the back offices, where they locked themselves in while they tried to communicate with mall security about the situation.

“We could see some people ducking and heard screaming from outside,” Benya said. “We then had to move people around in the locked rooms since there were too many people in each, so I took the initiative and made sure the storage room was clear before we did anything.”

When the SWAT team arrived to evacuate the building, the shooter still had not been caught. Police covered Benya and his co-workers as they escaped.

In the week since this fearful event, shoppers have not avoided the mall at all. On the contrary, Benya notes that more people have come to shop at Clackamas Town Center, presumably to show their solidarity.

“I think shoppers have kind of banded together to show that they want to support the businesses and their workers,” Benya said. “It is quite safe now, there is constantly a police presence at the mall. Other than that, all of the people who work at the mall that I’ve talked to feel like there is a difference. Maybe it feels less safe to us, knowing what happened.”