"I think we had a lot of, really, what I consider heroes, of citizens stepping up and helping people get out of the facility," Sheriff Roberts. "There were just some really amazing people who stepped up and I think this really could have been much worse."
Mall shopper Daniel Martinez told KATU that he had just sat down at a Jamba Juice inside the mall when he heard rapid gunfire. He turned and saw the masked gunman, dressed in all black, about 10 feet away from him.
"I just saw him [the gunman] and thought, 'I need to go somewhere,'" Martinez said. "It was so fast, and at that time, everyone was moving around."
Martinez said he ran to the nearest clothing store. As he ran, he motioned for another woman to follow. Several others ran to the store as well, hiding in a fitting room. They stayed there for an hour and a half until SWAT teams told them it was safe to leave the mall.
Witness Amber Tate said she was in the parking lot of the mall when she saw the shooter run by, wearing a mask and carrying a gun, headed for the Macy's.
"He looked like a teenager wearing a gun, like a bullet proof vest and he had a machine, like an assault rifle and a white mask and he looked at me," she said.
Other witnesses described the shooter as determined, looking straight ahead. He then seemed to walk through the mall toward the other end of the building, shooting along the way, according to witness reports.
"He looked like he was on a mission," survivor Vicki Napoli told ABC News.
Witnesses told KATU they heard "pops" and then saw the mall Santa fall to the ground. The man dressed as Santa, Wilson, told KATU that he wasn't concerned at first by what sounded like balloons popping.
"Then when I heard about 18 more shots, I decided it was a semi-automatic and I hit the floor and my employees must have just scattered and got out of there because when I got up there was nobody there but me," he said.
Others interviewed said that Macy's shoppers and store employees huddled in a dressing room to avoid being found. "I was helping a customer in the middle of the store, her and her granddaughter and while we were looking at sweatshirts we heard five to seven shots from a machine gun fire just outside my store," Jacob Rogers, a store clerk, told KATU.
"We moved everyone into the back room where there's no access to outside but where there's a camera so we can monitor what's going on out front," Rogers said.
Evan Walters, an employee of a store in the mall, told ABC News Radio that he was locked in a store for his safety and he saw two people shot and heard multiple gunshots.