The Portland Mall Shooting, as Told by Eyewitnesses

As many as 10,000 shoppers were ambling through the Clackamas Town Center mall Tuesday afternoon when the day's holiday cheer was broken by the sound of gunfire.

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Greg Wahl-Stephens / AP
Greg Wahl-Stephens / AP

Police and medics outside the scene of a multiple shooting at Clackamas Town Center Mall in Portland, Ore., Tuesday Dec. 11, 2012.

As many as 10,000 shoppers were ambling through the Clackamas Town Center mall Tuesday afternoon when the day’s holiday cheer was broken by the sound of gunfire. At 3:30 p.m., a masked gunman killed two people and critically wounded one at this mall in a suburb of Portland, Ore., before taking his own life. The rampage saw the  20-something shooter, whom police have so far declined to identify, stalking through the mall near the food court and Macy’s, brandishing an assault rifle and shooting “anyone who was in his line of sight,” according to Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts. The incident sparked chaos in the mall, with workers forced to take quick action to lock down their stores and shoppers in the corridors sprinting to the parking lots for cover. Many tweeted messages of safety as local police attempted to make sense of the tragedy. News outlets covering the story spoke to survivors and eyewitnesses, who shared harrowing tales of escaping the gunfire.

“I heard him yell, ‘Get on the ground’ twice. Everyone scattered, hit the ground. People were getting trampled.” – Shawn Wik, 20 (The Oregonian)

“I was by Santa Claus in front of Macy’s when we heard, ‘Pow. Pow. Pow.’” People screamed and ran. I saw Santa drop to the floor.”  — Bob Schwab, WWII veteran (The Oregonian)

“I couldn’t count because they were going off so quick. People were screaming and pointing and running. It was just like your typical American nightmare.” – an unnamed Avon Bath & Beauty employee (The Oregonian)

“He was, like, 10 feet away from us, wearing a white mask and carrying something heavy with both hands. He went running into the store. I was scared, but I didn’t tell my mom because I didn’t want to get her upset.” — Hannah Baggs, 14 (The Oregonian)

“There were little kids in my department, there were families, moms. We just told everybody, ‘get inside the fitting rooms!’ We all just climbed in there and stood on top of the benches that are inside of our fitting rooms and we just waited.” – Kelsey Barrows, Macy’s employee (KGW News)

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the tragic shooting outside of the Macy’s store at Clackamas Town Center in Portland yesterday. We also deeply appreciate the selfless actions of our associates who helped customers and their colleagues to safety during the incident.” — Kelley Tarzian, Macy’s spokeswoman, in a statement emailed to TIME

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families… I have directed state police to make any and all necessary resources available to local law enforcement.” — Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, in a statement emailed to TIME

“The shots were really loud and really scary… It was echoing all through the mall, so nobody knew where it was coming from at first.” — Larisa Tereahova (CBS News)

“There were a huge amount of people running in different directions, and it was chaos for a lot of citizens.” — Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts (KOIN News)

“I turned around and saw him. He was just moving around, shooting. People were jumping, crying. It was unreal.” – Courtney Olsen, mall worker (KGW News)

“There were five to seven gunshots, machine gunshots, right outside my store. And then we ended up later seeing a clip just on the ground.” — Jacob Rogers, Champs Sports employee (KOIN News)

“Me and the others raced to the back of the store and got our customers in the back room. Honestly, as I was shutting that gate I was waiting for that person to walk up the hallway and shoot me.” — Taylor Gibson, 20, Build-a-Bear employee (The Oregonian)