Safeway Shooter Warned He Would Commit a ‘National Tragedy’

Education Images/Getty
Education Images/Getty

The man who killed two people as he “walked aisle to aisle” spraying bullets inside a Safeway supermarket in Bend, Oregon, wrote a disturbing manifesto ahead of the bloodbath, warning of his intention to commit a “national tragedy.”

The shooter, who wielded an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun during his rampage, was identified by authorities on Monday as 20-year-old Ethan Miller. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound by responding cops inside the Safeway at The Forum Shopping Center.

Miller shot 84-year-old Glenn Edward Bennett dead as he came through the entrance. He then headed to the back of the store, where he fatally shot a second victim, Safeway employee Donald Ray Surrett, 66. At least two other people were shot but survived, according to authorities, who said officers also found two Molotov cocktails in Miller’s car, along with a sawed-off shotgun.

Police responded to multiple 911 calls that began at 7:04 p.m. Sunday, arrived at the scene “within two to three minutes from the time that first 911 call was dispatched,” and immediately entered the store, cops said at a press conference on Monday. Surrett was hailed by authorities on Monday as a hero for confronting Miller and potentially saving an unknown number of lives.

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Miller, who appears to have left behind a violent 56-page manifesto blaming his fury on, among other things, the government, COVID lockdowns, technology, and women, said in the rambling, oddly punctuated screed that he had an insatiable compulsion to kill.

“I can’t wait to just send a Bullet into someone’s Brain,” Miller wrote in the first entry, on July 29. “This is going to be the Bloodiest and Most Gruesome Massacre in the History of Massacres! I want Blood, Guts, Brain Matter, and Pieces of Skull & Flesh to Paint the Walls and Floors. Then I wanna End my Life Here in the Most Violent Way Possible. By Eating the Barrel of My Shotgun then Blowing my Head Off & Evacuating my Brain with Buckshot.”

Exactly a month later, he did.

According to Miller’s manifesto, Mountainview High School, his alma mater, was his initial target, and he intended to carry out a mass shooting there on Sept. 8, the first day of classes. However, Miller claimed in the rambling proclamation that he had become impatient and couldn’t hold off “any longer.”

“The Rage has become uncontrollable and It can’t wait 2 More Weeks,” he wrote. “Tomorrow. Sunday. August 28th 2022. Doomsday.”

Akela Haverlandt, 21, lived a few houses away from Miller and attended Mountainview High with him. She graduated in 2019, a year before Miller did, but the two had a number of classes together, she said in a phone interview from Florida, where she now resides.

“He would get in tons and tons of fights at school,” Haverlandt told The Daily Beast on Monday. “I think he had this sort of rage. I mean, he was just super aggressive.”

Miller “wasn’t really liked” by others, and didn’t have very many friends, according to Haverlandt.

“People thought he was weird, or rude, or just creepy toward the girls,” she said. “... He would always message me and my friends saying, like, you’re so pretty… Kind of like a weird type of harassment situation. And he would message us and bother the shit out of us.”

One of Miller’s few friends at Mountainview High was a varsity athlete that Haverlandt dated for three years, she said. The former jock, Keenan Harpole, was arrested and charged in April with murder in the shooting death of a 19-year-old woman at Portland State University, where he was matriculating.

When Haverlandt first read Miller’s manifesto on Sunday, which has now been taken offline, she said she found it so disturbing she couldn’t sleep all night. Still, Haverlandt said it came as little surprise that Miller, of all people, would be IDed as the shooter.

“To read [it] was super crazy, but also like, ‘Wow, makes sense,’” she continued. “I wouldn’t think of anybody else in my grade or in that school that... would do that. He was so recognized for being violent, and constantly fighting with kids, and just causing problems.”

Miller was an MMA enthusiast who trained at a local gym before COVID, but stopped going once the pandemic hit and never returned, Danzig MMA owner Mac Danzig told The Daily Beast. In his manifesto, Miller talked about trying but failing to get back into the sport.

On Sunday, shopper Josh Caba told News Channel 21 that he and his four children had gone into the store while his wife, who was feeling unwell, stayed in the car. “About 10 minutes later, we started heading to the front. Then we heard I don't know how many shots out front—six or seven,” he said. “I immediately turned to my children and said, ‘Run!’ People were screaming... it was a horrifying experience.”

He said he and three of his children escaped, and then he went in to find his fourth child. “When I got out of that store and the kids were rounded up, they were running into the store,” he said of police officers.

Molly Taroli, 40, told the local paper The Bulletin that she was shopping for dinner when the shooter came in and went through every aisle “spraying shots.” Taroli told the paper that “she removed her own handgun from her purse and her husband ran out the front door to get his own gun.”

Taroli said she heard the screams of a child and quickly threw her shopping cart in front of her and started running toward the back of the store. Employees “were yelling ‘Go, go, go!’” as shoppers moved through the stock room and out the back door, she told The Bulletin.

Many of the callers described Miller—whose manifesto showed obsessive admiration for Nine Inch Nails—as wearing full black attire.

The manifesto also contained photos of Miller shooting what appears to be a rocket launcher, and several weapons.

“If you’re reading this then I’m definitely DEAD and have just committed a “NATIONAL TRAGEDY,” he wrote under a diary titled “The Downward Spiral of ‘Ethan Miller’—posted by wrathofman22. The diary goes on to embrace COVID-19 conspiracy theories and desperate loneliness. “Despite numerous attempts at being Social and trying to make new Friendships they have all turned futile,” he wrote. “I created this Tragedy. But Society created Me.”

Previous entries mentioned a desire to commit mass murder, and he described himself as “The Quiet Kid with Anger Issues.”

He claimed the “real changes started a little over two years ago when COVID started to become a global thing,” adding, “God that still fucking pisses me off. I still cannot believe the entire fucking world fell for that.”

He then laid out his reasons for why “this shooting is gonna be a bit DIFFERENT though.”

“Because I’m not like the typical Mass Shooter,” Miller insisted. “I’m different I’m not doing this for ‘Fame’ or to ‘Get Revenge’. I simply just want to DIE and leave a Lasting Impression and VIOLENT mark on this World on my way out... My life could’ve been different but because of the mistakes and choices I’ve made it’d led me here. I’m not exactly upset with it though.. I will find Peace on the Other Side.”

In closing, Miller wrote, “You guys are all so shocked and appalled I’m picturing it now... I’ve always been dangerous though. Like a Ticking FUCKING time bomb. Ready to blow!”

Supermarket shootings have seemingly become something of a copycat trend, with at least two other horrific spasms of violence erupting inside grocery stores over the past 18 months.

In May, 18-year-old Peyton Gendron gunned down 13 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 and wounding three. Police said Gendron purposely targeted a store that predominantly served Black shoppers, who made up 11 of his 13 victims.

Last year, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a martial-arts enthusiast whose brother told The Daily Beast he had a history of mental illness, fatally shot 10 people at a King Soopers market in Boulder, Colorado.

“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me,’” Ali Aliwi Alissa said. “She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head.”

With reporting by Decca Muldowney.

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