Donald Ray Surrett Jr.: Tribute to the Bend, Oregon, Safeway Hero

donald surrett

GoFundMe Donald Surrett with his wife

Donald Ray Surrett Jr. was an Army veteran who leapt to action when an active shooter entered the Safeway store in Bend, Oregon.

According to Bend Police spokesperson Sheila Miller, Surrett, an employee at the Safeway, confronted the gunman, Ethan Blair Miller, in the produce section and tried to disarm him. Miller killed Surrett and a customer in the store before taking his own life, police said.

Donald Surrett, 66, of Bend, was shot in the rear of the store, and police declared him a hero. He was also known as Don Surrett.

“Surrett engaged with the shooter, attempted to disarm him, and may very well have prevented further deaths,” police spokeswoman Miller said. “Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible incident.”

There is a GoFundMe page to help Don Surrett’s wife Jacky. “My name is Jerilynn, I’m asking for donations to help my sister Jacky Surrett with funeral cost and living expenses,” it reads. “Don was shot at Safeway In Bend ,Or. on 8-28-22 From an active shooter. He was the main provider. My sister is on Disability. Don was an Veteran and his instincts kicked in trying to save others. He was shot and killed trying to subdue the young Gunman. Please send prayers too. Thank you.”

The other victim, Glenn Edward Bennett, was a medic in the Korean War. There is a GoFundMe page to help his widow.

Here’s what you need to know:

Surrett Had Served in the U.S. Army for Two Decades

According to the Associated Press, Donald Surrett “previously served in the U.S. Army for two decades.”

Debora Jean Surrett, Surrett’s ex wife, told AP that he “served in the Army for 20 years as a combat engineer.”

He was stationed in Germany three times and throughout the U.S., AP reported.

According to his LinkedIn page, Surrett also worked as an information assistant for the U.S. Forestry Service and as an office specialist for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

He received a certification in computer information systems from Central Oregon Community College in 2011, and a bachelor’s degree in computer and information sciences from Columbia College in 2003. “Completed at different duty stations while in Army. That’s why it took so long,” Surrett wrote on LinkedIn.

People who knew Surrett told Oregon Live that they weren’t surprised he stood up to stop the gunman.

“Whether it was advocating for disabled veterans, offering steadfast support for his church or raising concerns to union brass, Donald R. Surrett Jr. was never afraid to stand up and make his voice heard,” the newspaper reported.

Surrett Was Remembered as ‘Such a Nice Guy’ & a Hero

People offered tributes to Surrett on Facebook. “Don was such a nice guy……..I would on occasion visit with him in conversation when I went to our neighbourhood safeway to shop…….Yes, this shooting hit very close to home for me and so many others, including so many people I know……..Our Bend community is totally devastated………Thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by this tragedy🙏” wrote one man on Facebook.

Another man wrote, “Donald Ray Surrett Jr. Is who needs to go viral and not the not to be named shooter. This man worked at Safeway and was a vet and attacked the shooter and probably saved many lives including my son’s. Thank you for your sacrifice Donald. I can’t express the gratitude I feel. My son really liked working with you. RIP”

Another man wrote,

I would like to express my support and condolences to anyone who knew, Don Surrett Jr., especially to the Surrett family. I had the privilege years ago to have Don in some of my classes at COCC and have kept up with him over the years, as the east side Safeway, is where I shop. Don worked in the produce department there and as he once said to me, found it more enjoyable than working with computers.

I would say hello to him when he would stop long enough to have a short conversation before returning to stocking produce for our community. I am not surprised by Don’s actions last evening to confront and try to disarm the shooter. You, Don Surrett, are a hero! Whom I have no doubt saved many lives at the selfless expense of your own. I will miss you, Don.

A woman wrote on Facebook that Surrett was part of a church community:

As many of you have probably already heard, yesterday evening there was an active shooter at Safeway in Bend. Two men were killed. This hits close to home being right in our community. Sadly, it gets closer when we hear that one of the two men killed was Don Surrett, a member of our church. Him and his wife, Jackie Surrett have attended our church many times and some of you know them. Don was working at Safeway when the gunman began shooting and Don attempted to disarm the gunman, receiving a fatal shot in the process. Truly a tragic ending to such a brave act. Let’s wrap our arms around Jackie and her family in prayer, as well as the family of the other man who was killed. This is a reminder that this is not our home, may we lift those mourning up to our heavenly Father.

The Gunman Stormed Into the Grocery Store After Leaving Behind a Disturbing Journal

Officers responded to the store in the area of The Forum Shopping Center on Sunday night, August 28, 2022, according to police.

The killer had left behind a disturbing journal in which he revealed he was initially planning a school shooting.

“I’m a blood-thirsty, evil f****** psychopath,” he wrote in a journal entry on Wattpad reviewed and saved by Heavy before it was deleted. The page is called the “downward spiral of Ethan Miller.” The gunman also posted on Instagram pictures of himself with weapons.

“Well, this is it,” read another post on the manifesto. “Today’s the day I die.”

Police revealed in news conference on August 29 that as officers responded, the shooter entered from the Fox Hollow apartments. He was shooting rounds from an AR-15-style rifle. He entered the west entrance of Safeway. Inside the entrance, he shot one person, who died. The shooter continued through Safeway, shooting and killing Surret inside the store. Police entered the store while shots were still being fired, and they found Miller deceased.

They found a shotgun and AR-15 rifle in close proximity to the shooter. There was no evidence of a second shooter, despite early reports. Molotov cocktails were found in his car.

At a press conference late Sunday, Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said, “At approximately 7:04 p.m. we received a call for service at the Forum Shopping Center. Multiple 911 calls came in. As police responded we had reports of at least one possible or two active shooters in the area. The calls were shots being fired. We believe the shooter entered from a residential area behind the Forum Shopping Center. The shooter moved through the parking lot from the Costco on the west end shooting rounds an AR-15-style rifle.”

Krantz said the shooter then went into the west entrance of Safeway. The chief said, “They engaged one person there and shot that person. That person was transported to the hospital and was later pronounced deceased. The shooter continued through the Safeway firing rounds. The shooter killed a second person inside the Safeway. Officers responded and when they arrived they entered the Safeway immediately, still hearing shots. They found the apparent shooter dead inside Safeway.”

Krantz said the rifle and a shotgun were found near the shooter. He said officers didn’t fire any shots. The chief added the suspect is a male but did not identify him or the victims.

Officers entered to confront Ethan Miller, but he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the police spokeswoman said. It took four minutes from dispatch to Ethan Miller being down, she said.

A police bomb squad cleared Ethan Miller’s apartment as well as the Safeway.

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