Portland ShootingIn tragic news out of Oregon tonight, a masked gunman opened fire on busy crowds of holiday shoppers at the Clackamas Town Center in suburban Portland. According to reports, at least two people were shot to death, and the gunman has been declared dead as well. At least one other person was injured, according to NBC.

It's terrifying to think how one minute shoppers were milling about looking for those perfect gifts and feeling that holiday cheer, and then suddenly shots rang out. Witnesses say the assailant ran in through a Macy's store around 3:30 p.m. wearing some kind of mask and body armor, and was carrying an assault rifle. As he started firing, panic ensued. The reports from witnesses are chilling:

Kira Rowland told KGW-TV she was shopping with her infant when it started:

All of a sudden you hear two shots, which sounded like balloons popping. Everybody got on the ground. I grabbed the baby from the stroller and got on the ground. I put the baby back in the stroller and ran like hell. It was awful. It was shots after shots after shots like a massacre.

Tiffany Turgetto told the AP:

People in front of us people were dropping, finding covering. People were yelling screaming and gasping, yelling to get out. The lady next to us, she threw a chair and started running. We couldn't run because the chair was there.

Terrifying. It's these kind of random acts of violence that chill me to the bone. To think that your life can change in one split second because you decided to stop off and get your dad a tie instead of going to the gym just makes my head swim, and it makes me trust those around me even less.

So far no identification of the shooter has been released nor any kind of motive announced. But eventually I'm sure it will come out, and we'll question and wonder and see things in hindsight, but nothing will bring these people back to life. Every time one of these tragedies takes place it always makes me wonder how many others like this assailant are out there planning, just waiting until they can carry out their violent plan. Because there always seems to be another.

And now as we race toward the holidays with plenty of shopping left to do, we're left with fresh fears, and a renewed sense of worry and distrust as we head to the malls ... or don't. No, these incidents don't happen every day, but the fact that they could happen ANY day is terrifying.

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Do you worry about random shootings like this when you're in crowded places? Will it make you less likely to go to a mall this holiday season?

 

Image via MSNBC