Donald Ray Surrett, Jr. had plenty of time to flee as an active shooter entered the Safeway in Bend on Sunday.
But police said Surrett, a military veteran, hid behind a produce cart, waited for the 20-year-old gunman to look the other way, and attacked him with a produce knife, according to a release issued on Tuesday.
The gunman eventually shot and killed Surrett before taking his own life, using weapons he legally purchased, police said.
The shooter started the night at his home in the Fox Hollow Apartments, located behind the grocery store, where he shot up his own truck before heading toward the Forum Shopping Center.
He used to work at the Safeway location, police said, although it was not specified when.
By the time the shooting ended minutes later at the Safeway, two victims — Surrett and 84-year-old Glenn Edward Bennett — were killed.
Former coworkers on Tuesday recalled Surrett as a cheerful and dedicated employee.
Lisa Morrison worked for nearly seven years in the store’s floral department before retiring in December. She told OPB that Surrett would show up every Thursday, when fresh flowers were delivered, to request a bouquet for his disabled wife.
“He’d say, ‘OK, girls, did you get some fresh stargazers today?” Morrison said. “Every week – every week – he would get fresh stargazers and take them back to his wife. It was just the sweetest thing.”
Alex Theesen, an eight-year employee of the store, also worked closely with Surrett. He described the produce clerk as cheerful and talkative, always willing to pull someone aside to talk about their lives.
While many of his coworkers are feeling reluctant about returning to work, Theesen said Surrett’s sacrifice has inspired him to return as soon as possible.
“I want to show my respects to Don, and I want to honor the fact that he did what he did,” he said. “He protected a lot of people, and I think that it’s good for people to go there and kind of find some peace in that.”
In total, officers recovered more than 100 shell casings from the gunman’s apartment, the shopping center and the grocery store.
Other community members sprang into action as well, according to police. Surveillance video from the shopping center showed that two people fleeing the grocery store eventually returned to drag Bennett out of the store, who was lying on the floor after being shot, the report said.
Investigators determined that the gunman purchased his weapons legally. Police had previously said he used an AR-15 in the attack, and was also carrying a shotgun. During their search after the attack, officers found hundreds of rounds of ammunition on the gunman’s body, in his apartment and in his vehicle, as well as Molotov cocktails.
Police are still investigating the scene inside Safeway, but said they will reopen the adjacent parking lot.