The Bend Gunman: He Told Us Who He Was

 

A gunman walked through a popular neighborhood shopping area Sunday night and began shooting up the place. He killed two people before killing himself. It wasn’t his original plan.

He had been documenting his original plan for months and posting it to Wattpad, an open forum site that bills itself as the “place where stories live.”

The gunman made it clear in his writing that he wanted to kill as many people as possible before killing himself. His plan was to attack a local high school, up the street from the local shopping area he attacked last night. He identified the date of his planned attack as September 8th. He was writing about it as early as the 1st of July. Writing about his desire to kill others. He said he idolized the Columbine killers. He called the Parkland shooter stupid for not taking his own life.

 

He bought a shotgun and then sawed it off. Posted a photo of himself with it. The AR15 cost double the shotgun, so that took him a few paychecks to pay for, but his delight over the AR15 once it arrived bordered on euphoria: “I’m predicting at least 20 dead but I might just kill up to 40+.”

A Gunman’s delusions of grandeur?

“I’m Evil. Plain and Simple,” he wrote. “That is literally the only answer here. My Head doesn’t work right, it never really has. I just don’t fit in with this world.”

He wasn’t afraid of posting his plan, his manifesto if you will, before God and everyone in plenty of time for someone to have alerted the police, in plenty of time for a background check to have found it. He used his real name. Ethan Miller. Others had apparently read his postings. Did any of them alert Bend police?

It’s a discombobulating thing to be thankful a gunmen didn’t carry out his plan to be a school shooter. Instead, an hour before heading over the neighborhood shopping area and opening fire, he wrote another post: “Well this is it. Today’s the day I die. It’s nerve-wracking as Hell. But also peaceful in a way. Knowing that after my massacre I’ll be gone. Truly at peace.”

He believed he was going to meet some woman in his afterlife, a forever love. A love he could not obtain in this life, no matter how hard he tried.

He was right about one thing – his brain didn’t work right. Nowhere in any of his writings does he ever say that he called a suicide help line or sought any sort of intervention for his mental condition. I suspect he knew if he had done that he might not be able to purchase the guns he so badly needed to carry out his plan.

But I can’t help who is the mentally ill people here: The shooter or those of us who continually vote in gun rights advocates who argue that America’s fascination with violence is the result of gaming and not the result of access to guns.

If it isn’t a gun access problem why is it every other nation that has had a mass shooter, who then instituted strict gun laws, who then took AR15 and other military-style assault weapons out of the hands of the public, have not had any more mass shootings? Did they fix all their mentally ill before taking away the guns? Or do they still have mentally ill people who just can’t obtain guns to carry our their delusions?

We know the right thing is better gun control, we just continually refuse to do the right thing.

Ethan didn’t make national headlines. He didn’t achieve any state of glory. He only killed two people before killing himself.

But those two people? Their lives mattered. Their loved ones are grieving today, as they will everyday moving forward.

And as I type this, I know there are others out there, planning the next massacre.

Yet, we continue to be the country willing to arm people who know, as Ethan knew, that they are evil. That their brains don’t work right. People who hunger for doing harm to other unsuspecting innocent people. Like Parkland. Like Uvalde. Like Bend.

I want to live in the country that bans assault weapons, not books.

Register. Show Up. Vote accordingly.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of The Murder Gene: A True Crime Story. 

He told us who he was and what he planned to do. Still, we put the guns in his hands to carry out his plan. Who are the crazy ones?

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

30 Comments

Diane Saxe

about 3 months ago

I couldn’t agree more…I am furious, frustrated, saddened for all of us. How did we get here.? How can I make a difference? It’s time to act not react. …I feel the website as others should have alerted the police, someone., anyone…why oh why are we all so afraid to take a stand. Thank you for writing this piece. Our community is now “awakened”…Still quiet as we protect the innocent… Our resort community, Until the next shooting do we remain quiet?

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

I refuse to remain quiet..I will continue pushing for change.

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AF Roger

about 3 months ago

We indeed have a lethal combination: a nation awash in weapons and a male socialization milieu that is going completely off the rails. Meanwhile, Donald J. Trump who has never been held to account for anything is basically calling for national insurrection immediately. Registering and showing up to vote are not going to matter or be effective any longer if this man has his way. His backers and brainwashed party have the weapons and the ammunition to help him do it. Fascism has arrived.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

Exactly. Thank you, Roger.

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Jim Drago

about 3 months ago

These deaths were indeed tragic, all three of them, but none of the fault lies with the rifle, none. That is just political rhetoric. A rifle is just an inanimate object no different than the car used to kill participants in a Christmas Parade in WI. You state seemingly longingly, "I want to live in a country that bans assault weapons" then why do you stay? You have every right to move to nearly any country on earth. Find one that appeals to you and that has disarmed their citizenry and move there and pursue your bliss. My bet is that you will stay. Understand the problem, look at it with honesty. It is not a rifle issue, it is a political and judicial issue where those who should be institutionalized (violent criminals and the mentally ill) are protected and allowed to run free and victimize the public, by a group of politicians who use chaos to remain in power. By their actions they prove that they are as, or more delusional and I dare say evil, than the subject of your article. He at least,was more honest than them about about his motive. Don't blame the gun, blame the system that wouldn't protect the public from this lost soul. I have no doubt that there was opportunity long before this fateful day to do so. Put the blame where it belongs. Be honest with your criticism and if you want to live in a gun free country, relocate to one and be at peace.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

It is apparent from your comments that you could care less about stopping angry young men from slaughtering others. You continue to try and justify putting weapons in the hands of evil or ill people. Why do you insist on giving the irrational and the angry full access to weapons?

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Jim Drago

about 3 months ago

I said no such thing. I believe instead of sending money to Ukraine we should build institutions here and that violent repeat offenders and the mentally ill should be institutionalized and not be allowed to have guns. Oh wait we already have those laws and yet they still get them and even if banned, they will continue to until they are put away and existing laws are enforced. You see that is the issue bad guys don't obey the laws. None of my guns have ever hurt anyone so why should I not be allowed to have them. Alcohol kills more people than guns so should we ban it. How about cars should they be banned? Hundreds of Thousands of babies have been killed by forceps, should they be banned. Hundreds of times more people have been killed by the Covid shot than by shots from guns, Should it be banned.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

Why. then do you advocate for putting assault weapons into the hands of so called "bad people"? If you recognize a certain amount of people are "bad" or "evil" as Miller described himself, or "mentally unstable," I would think you would want stricter gun laws to prevent such people from obtaining such weapons. We know strict gun laws work. We have plenty of other countries who have led the way on this very issue. Countries where they no longer have such shootings because they don't allow evil or bad people, or those with mental health issues to have access to guns. Of course, that means every law abiding citizen doesn't have an assault weapon either but I am willing to make that trade off to prevent classrooms full of children or grocers full of people from being slaughtered. Why aren't you willing to protect innocent people?

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Jim Drago

about 3 months ago

Actually you are not correct. We've already tried an assault weapons ban and all of the information studied by the FBI when it was ended proved that it had had NO measurable effect on gun crime. You continue to claim that I defend crazies having assault weapons. That is a blatant misrepresentation as I have clearly stated. In fact, I likely have a much stronger view than you in this area. I believe every law abiding citizen who under current laws wants one or five semi-automatic weapon has the right to and should be able to have them. I believe anyone who obtains ANY firearm illegally should be punished to the full extent of the law. I believe that anyone who uses a firearm in the commission of a crime should be incarcerated for as long as possible. And I believe if you use a firearm in the commission of a crime that ends a life you should receive the death penalty. This would end gun crime much faster than removing a given class of firearm. As for the mentally ill, there are already laws concerning the purchase of weapons but it isn't woke to report these people to the authorities who are in control of licensing. WE DON'T PUNISH CRIMINALS because it is easier and more politically correct to punish law abiding citizens. Have I made myself clear? Do you agree that criminals should be punished to the FULL extent of the law? Do you believe that those who have been diagnosed with mental illness should be institutionalized and kept safe from harming themselves or others? Guns are not the problem, a weak, woke, criminal justice system is the problem and I happen to believe it is be design.

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

Jim: I don't know what study you are quoting, but here's the facts: "The risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower during the period in which the assault weapons ban was active. The proportion of overall gun homicides resulting from mass shootings was also down, with nine fewer mass-shooting-related fatalities per 10,000 shooting deaths." Here's a source of such studies, of which there have been several, for your reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30188421/. Moreover, it is fact that since the ban has been removed (thank you Republicans) mass shootings have reached epidemic levels in the US. Law enforcement does not support putting military style assault weapons in the hands of the general public: Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty tells The Oklahoman, “There are just more and more assault rifles out there, and it is becoming a bigger threat to law enforcement each day. They are outgunned.” Brockton (Massachusetts) Police Department Captain Emanuel Gomes says, “We’re literally outgunned. You’re talking about the kind of firepower that can go through vehicles, through vests, and that can literally go through a house.” "The IACP has been a strong supporter of the assault weapons ban since 1992, and our membership has approved several reauthorizations of support in the years since. The membership took this action because we, as law enforcement executives, understand that the criminal use of semiautomatic assault weapons pose a grave risk to our officers and the communities they are sworn to protect." International Associations of the Chiefs of Police Moreover, we have proof from a host of countries that have enacted assault weapons bans and tighter gun control laws that such laws prevent mass shootings and protect communities. Suicide rates decrease. Gun accident deaths decrease. Homicides decrease. Mass Shootings decrease. So while your NRA inspired talking points about locking people up and guns for law-abiding citizens is a lot of canned rhetoric, it is not held up by facts. I will not belabor this point with you any longer. You have your position and the facts prove it is a wrong position and not popular. The majority of Americans want an assault weapons ban. And if they vote accordingly with that value, we will have one.

Saddened

about 3 months ago

Your verbal attack on the writer is part of the problem. …Politics and political blaming is not the answer. Divisiveness is in part part of the problem this man our youth our country has normalized. We are as a nation as adults are teaching our youth that hate crimes not only of oneself but society are now a normality and action is their right and choice. Fly your Flags high and blame Joe Biden or the Dems as a whole but I challenge you to dig deeper. America we have a problem….Let’s work together to fix this broken country. Listen to the hearts of the broken amongst us all. Find compassion in the depths of your humanity and stop blaming each other. Love one another s is called for each one of us to do.

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AF Roger

about 3 months ago

Dear Saddened: I am with you, but I am beyond saddened. I have to invent new terms to express my reactions to this latest human catastrophe because the previous terms don't describe it anymore. And whatever I feel at any given moment is always saturated with grief, grief that we are yet again at this point, GRief that our response will yet again be so entirely inadequate. So color me GRangry tempered with periods of GRage but not willing to concede GRefeat. The human catastrophe here began long before a young man entered a Safeway store with weapons. His life was lost--to him and to us--long before he wrote those violent messages. The human catastrophe continues with schoolkids in Uvalde (and countless other towns and cities now) who have nightmares, are afraid to sleep near a window, where parents are afraid to send their kids to school. But it could be anywhere: at church, a movie, an outdoor picnic, a parade, a football game, the office, the warehouse, the bus, the train, riding our bike, or in a car at any traffic signal or intersection. When do we get to end this "taxation of fear" without representation? Last year, the entire country of Japan with about 40% of our population had four shootings and one gun death. Whole country! Whole year! How much fear that we seem numb to here are they not burdened with? And we talk about being "free" here? Why is it that 98% of shootings are carried out by males in the USA? When will we recognize THIS human catastrophe and confront it? And if we aren't part of the solution, we are all part of the problem. For the record, I am a veteran. August 15 was the 53rd anniversary of my oath of enlistment. I still remember what it said. I was trained to handle military weapons which are different from guns. I was also trained to handle highly classified national security information and did so safely for three years. I haven't forgotten what that meant and why it matters. Let us turn our sadness, our GRanger, into GRaction. The status quo is a no-person's land. I can't live there. No one can.

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Average Joe

about 3 months ago

Well said Mr. Drago, very well said.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

Riddle me this: Why do you want to make it so easy for killers like Ethan and Cruz and hundreds of other angry young men to slaughter people? Why arm the mentally ill to the hilt?? Why give an evil mean an AR15? Why are you supporting and advocating for the killing of innocent people? Children??

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Lisa Li

about 3 months ago

You are absolutely correct!

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Karen

about 3 months ago

I feel that guns should be banned completely, Also there should be policemen at. Schools to protect children.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

There are effective ways of dealing with this problem without banning every gun, and posting police at every school. Look up the gun laws in the UK. Scotland had a mass shooting at a school. They responded with strict gun laws and have never had another mass shooting. There are better ways and many countries are dealing with them effectively. But yes, access to guns is the primary problem.

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Me not you

about 3 months ago

If guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have them. Them what Karen

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

Where is the evidence of that? Look at Scotland. Australia. England. Ireland. Show me where enacting stricter gun laws, banning assault weapons has led to only outlaws having guns? Nope. No evidence of that whatsoever. However, it did stop mass shootings in those countries.

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Me not you

about 3 months ago

WE ARE AMERICA and frankly would not want to live in any other country than the best. Karen, are you a vet?

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

We are not the best country in the world. Plenty of countries in Europe lead us in transportation, in healthcare, in education, and in preventing mass shootings. And no I am not a veteran. I am a Gold Star daughter. I was 9 years old when my father was killed in action in Vietnam, doing what his country called him to do, lay down his life for his country.

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Jim Drago

about 3 months ago

Why do you stay here then? It is an honest question.

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

Family.

Jim Drago

about 3 months ago

and by the way I am very sorry for your loss and grateful for your father's sacrefice.

Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

I trust you mean that. Thank you.

Jim Drago

about 3 months ago

Of course I mean it, I can only imagine how painful that was and still is. It was IMHO a senseless war that we had no business being a part of and ALL of the victims of it in every way were and are victims of our Government.

Sandy Murphy

about 3 months ago

While I feel for the tragic loss of life of the innocent victims of the shooting at the Safeway, I also feel for the family of Ethan Miller. They lost a son who had a mental illness. She has the grief and guilt. Knowing that she will never see her son again and the guilt of knowing her son killed two people and changed the life of others forever. Having a son whom some will call a monster and knowing he was her once sweet baby boy. She will also suffer for the rest of her life.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 3 months ago

I suspect they lost Ethan long before this event.

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Jeff

about 3 months ago

our neighbor mexico outlawed firearms and they still have mass shootings.

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Twayne

about 3 months ago

Give me a break bringing up Mexico where lawlessness is part of their institutions - most notably their law enforcement ones. But, the quality of a country is probably related to the quality of its people, and we should definitely be examining ourselves the mirror for a deep self-analysis!

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