December 13, 2012

'Friendly' gunman had disconnected

The suspect in the mall shootings, who had abruptly quit his job, was said to be happy and gregarious.

The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - Friends and acquaintances on Wednesday described the man police say opened fire in a crowded Portland shopping mall as friendly and gregarious, not generally reclusive or bizarre.

Adam Phillips
click image to enlarge

Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputy Lt. Adam Phillips conducts a press conference Tuesday on the mall shooting in which a gunman killed two people then himself. Police identified the gunman as Jacob Taylor Roberts, 22, pictured below the deputy. People who knew Roberts said he was friendly and gregarious, but twice had disconnected from people close to him.

The Associated Press

But twice, Jacob Tyler Roberts disconnected from people close to him, according to friends. He abruptly announced last month he was quitting his job and planned to move to Hawaii.

When he last saw his ex-girlfriend Hannah Patricia Sansburn last week, the usually "bubbly and happy" 22-year-old "seemed numb," she told ABC News.

He was supposed to fly Saturday to Hawaii, Sansburn said, but he texted her that he got drunk and missed the flight.

"You can't reconcile the differences," Sansburn told ABC. "I hate him for what he did, but I can't hate the person I knew because it was nothing like the person who would go into a mall and go on a rampage. I would never associate the two at all."

Nobody answered the door at Sansburn's home, and she did not immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press.

Roberts had also disconnected from a neighbor last year.

Roberts developed a close friendship with Samantha Bennett after moving into her suburban apartment complex in summer 2011. It's just blocks from the mall he's accused of terrorizing.

"He was outgoing, he would always be talkative," Bennett told The Associated Press. "He was like a rapper, he would rap all the time."

But a year later, in June, he abruptly moved out, Bennett said, disconnecting his phone and losing contact with the neighbor he'd talked to every day.

Authorities say Roberts arrived at the crowded Clackamas Town Center Tuesday with a hockey-style face mask, an AR-15 rifle taken from someone he knew and several fully loaded magazines. He entered through Macy's about 3:30 p.m., walked quickly to the mall's common areas and began firing randomly, killing two people and wounding another before fatally shooting himself.

The victims were identified as Steven Mathew Forsyth, 45, and Cindy Ann Yuille, 54. Kristina Shevchenko, 15, was shot in the chest and taken to a Portland hospital, where she was in serious condition Wednesday. Her doctor expected her to fully recover.

Bennett first met Roberts when they attended the same middle school, she said. But they weren't close until he moved in across the hall with a girlfriend who moved out when they broke up two months later.

Roberts decorated his dining room like a jungle, Bennett said. He was interested in guns and once showed her a black handgun, she said.

More recently, Roberts was living at a modest, single-story home in a different neighborhood.

Neighbor Bobbi Bates said he rented space in the basement. She said she saw him leave at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday wearing a dark jacket and jeans, carrying a guitar case. An occupant at the house declined to comment.

Another neighbor, Anthony Reyes, said he never noticed anything unusual about Roberts.

"He was relaxed and friendly," Reyes said.

The alleged gunman worked for a time at a late-night Mediterranean restaurant.

"He was always just joking around with customers," Ariana Johnson, a former co-worker, told The Oregonian. "I've never seen him act out of hand or poorly toward anyone."

 

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