Friends Describe Suspect As Friendly, Talkative
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Friends and acquaintances on Wednesday described the man police say opened fire in a crowded Portland shopping mall as friendly and gregarious, not generally reclusive or bizarre.
But twice, Jacob Tyler Roberts disconnected from people close to him, according to friends. He abruptly announced last month he was quitting his job and planned to move to Hawaii.
When he last saw his ex-girlfriend Hannah Patricia Sansburn last week, the usually “bubbly and happy” 22-year-old “seemed numb,” she told ABC News.
He was supposed to fly Saturday to Hawaii, Sansburn said, but he texted her that he got drunk and missed the flight.
“You can’t reconcile the differences,” Sansburn told ABC. “I hate him for what he did, but I can’t hate the person I knew because it was nothing like the person who would go into a mall and go on a rampage. I would never associate the two at all.”
Nobody answered the door at Sansburn’s home, and she did not immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press.
Roberts had also disconnected from a neighbor last year.
Roberts developed a close friendship with Samantha Bennett after moving in to her suburban apartment complex in summer 2011. It’s just blocks from the mall he’s accused of terrorizing.
“He was outgoing, he would always be talkative,” Bennett told The Associated Press. “He was like a rapper, he would rap all the time.”
But a year later, in June, he abruptly moved out, Bennett said, disconnecting his phone and losing contact with the neighbor he’d talked to every day.
On a Facebook page that a friend identified as Roberts’, a few photos show Roberts hanging out with friends, while the cover photo is of a wall painted with the message “Follow Your Dreams” with the word “Canceled” stamped across the message.
In the public portion of his page, Roberts wrote, “I may be young but I have lived one crazy life so far.”
“I’m the kind of person that is going to do what I want,” he wrote. “There is no reason for another person to tell you what to do, I’m the conductor of my choo choo train.”
He added he was “a bit of an adrenaline junkie” who is “just looking to meet new people and see the world.”
Authorities say Roberts arrived at the crowded Clackamas Town Center Tuesday with a hockey-style face mask, an AR-15 rifle taken from someone he knew and several fully loaded magazines. He entered through Macy’s about 3:30 p.m., walked quickly to the mall’s common areas and began firing randomly, killing two people and wounding another before fatally shooting himself.
The victims were identified as Steven Mathew Forsyth, 45, and Cindy Ann Yuille, 54. Kristina Shevchenko, 15, was shot in the chest and taken to a Portland hospital, where she was in serious condition Wednesday. Her doctor expected her to fully recover.
Bennett first met Roberts when they attended the same middle school, she said. But they weren’t close until he moved in across the hall with a girlfriend who moved out when they broke up two months later.
Roberts decorated his dining room like a jungle, Bennett said. He was interested in guns and once showed her a black handgun, she said.
Another friend who said she had known Roberts since middle school, Shania Riley, described him as a “very compassionate and very caring person.” Roberts could also be “mysterious” and “kind of a troublemaker.”
“Like being young, skipping class, smoking pot out back — teenager stuff,” Riley said. Everything seemed fine when she saw him at a bar last week, she said.
The only odd moment Riley could recall came about six months ago when she and her boyfriend were at Roberts’ apartment “and he was pulling out guns and showing them to us.”
She recalled seeing two handguns and what might have been a .22-caliber rifle.
Still, Riley didn’t find it alarming. Roberts said he used them for target practice out in the hills, she recalled.
More recently, Roberts was living at a modest, single-story home.
Neighbor Bobbi Bates said he rented space in the basement. She said she saw him leave at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday wearing a dark jacket and jeans, carrying a guitar case. An occupant at the house declined to comment.
Another neighbor, Anthony Reyes, said he never noticed anything unusual about Roberts.
“He was relaxed and friendly,” Reyes said.
The alleged gunman worked for a time at a late-night Mediterranean restaurant.
“He was always just joking around with customers,” Ariana Johnson, a former co-worker, told The Oregonian. “I’ve never seen him act out of hand or poorly toward anyone.”
Roberts abruptly quit in November, Johnson said, telling co-workers that he had recently inherited money from a relative and was planning to visit Hawaii and decide whether to move there permanently.
He missed a flight to Hawaii scheduled for Friday or Saturday, Johnson said.
Roberts spent one school year at Oregon City High School and graduated in 2008 after transferring from Milwaukie High School, the Oregon City School District said in a statement.
“He was known as a soft-spoken and polite young man who was often eager to be helpful,” the statement said. “The motive for such a horrific act is likely to remain a mystery to us all.”
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