PORTLAND (CBS13) – A former Sacramento resident found herself in the middle of the Oregon mall shooting that left three people dead, including the gunman.
Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and several fully loaded magazines, fired randomly at people at a Portland area mall on Tuesday.
Kimberly Koppenhaffer said she heard two bangs and didn’t even realize what it was. Then she heard several more shots ring out, grabbed her daughter and ran for cover.
“We heard two really loud bangs, and everybody stopped and looked up towards the noise,” said Koppenhaffer.
Just moments after taking her 18-month-old daughter Rhiannon to visit Santa, she feared for their lives.
“I immediately just wasn’t even thinking, just reaction, picked up Rhiannon,” said Koppenhaffer.
The Sacramento native took cover, hiding in the first store she could run to.
“It was so loud, I didn’t know if it was in the same area I was in, if it was a ways down the mall,” she said.
Hiding near a window, Koppenhaffer still felt unsafe. So she took a big risk, running across the mall into another store. A terrified employee pulled down the gate behind them as they ran and hid in the back.
“She was crying a little bit, and she was calling people on the phone,” said Koppenhaffer. “We just kept saying ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ ”
Secured inside the store, Koppenhaffer finally felt safe enough to call her husband.
“He was really worried for both of us. I let him know we were safe back here, no one can get to us,” said Koppenhaffer.
Then, she and Rhiannon waited and waited. Two painstaking hours passed before police in full SWAT gear finally led them out to safety.
“I still almost feel in shock from it. It feels surreal,” said Koppenhaffer. “You just never think that something like this will happen to you, or someone you know.”
Koppenhaffer says she plans on going back to the mall, but she says she can’t predict how she’ll feel when she walks by the same Santa display.