(CBS/AP)-- A masked gunman wearing camouflage opened fire Tuesday in a busy Portland mall, leaving the gunman and two others dead and one person injured, and forcing the mall's Santa Claus and hundreds of Christmas shoppers and employees to flee or hide among store displays.
Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy's, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest. He heard the gunman say, "I am the shooter," as if announcing himself. A series of rapid-fire shots in short succession followed as Christmas music played. Patty said he ducked to the ground and then ran.
His Macy's co-worker, Pam Moore, told The Associated Press the gunman was short, with dark hair. Witnesses said he started firing just outside Macy's in the food court of Clackamas Town Center.
Ore. mall evacuated after shooting.Brance Wilson, the mall Santa, said he heard gunshots and dove for the floor. By the time he looked up, seconds later, everyone around him had cleared out. Merchandise was scattered in some stores as he made his way to the door.
"Santa will be back," Wilson said. "It's not going to keep Santa away from the mall."
Workers and shoppers rushed out of the mall and into stores'backrooms for safety as teams of police officers came inside to find the shooter. Authorities went store-to-store to confirm that there was only one shooter and to escort hiding shoppers outside.
Police said they have tentatively identified the gunman but would not release his name or give any information on a possible motive. They said he apparently killed himself, adding that they did not fire any shots.
Officials said a female teenager was also shot and was in serious condition at a Portland hospital.
"We have a young lady in the hospital fighting for her life right now," Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts at a news conference late Tuesday.
Earlier, Roberts told reporters, "There was about 10,000 people at the mall, so there were a huge amount of people running in different directions, and it was chaos for a lot of citizens."
Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, anywhere from 15 to 20, or even more.
"At first no one really knew what was going down," Mario, a kiosk worker inside the mall, told CBS affiliate KOIN in Portland. "We heard six shots at first, and then people scattered like crazy, everybody left."
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Adam Phillips said the victims were shot in an "open area" of the mall.
Clackamas Town Center is one of the Portland area's biggest and busiest malls, with 185 stores and a 20-screen movie theater. It would remain closed at least through Wednesday, Roberts said.
Shaun Wik, 20, from Fairview, said he was Christmas shopping with his girlfriend and opened a fortune cookie at the food court. Inside was written: "Live for today. Remember yesterday. Think of tomorrow."
As he read it, he heard three shots. He heard a man he believes was the gunman shout, "Get down!" but Wik and his girlfriend ran. He heard seven or eight more shots. He didn't turn around.
"If I had looked back, I might not be standing here," Wik said. "I might have been one of the ones who got hit."
Holli Bautista, 28, said she was shopping at Macy's for a Christmas dress for her daughter when she heard pops that sounded like firecrackers.
"I heard people running and screaming and saying `Get out, there's somebody shooting,"' she told the AP.
She said hundreds of shoppers and mall employees started running, and she and dozens of other people were trying to escape through a department store exit.
Tiffany Turgetto and her husband were leaving Macy's through the first floor when they heard gunshots coming from the second floor of the mall. They were able to quickly leave through a Barnes & Noble bookstore before the police arrived and locked down the mall.
"I had left my phone at home. I was telling people to call 911. Surprisingly, people are around me, no one was calling 911. I think people were in shock."