The production manager was hailed as a hero after police announced he had a child sexual abuse record in the 1990s and died while attacking a gunman at Bend Safeway. Complicating his legacy, it didn’t stop plans to honor him.
Donald R. Surlett, 66, likely saved others from death after ambushing a shooter during a rampage inside a store last Sunday, police said.
Surlett was convicted of sex crimes while in the army, military court records show. According to records cited by the Oregon Public Broadcasting Service, Surlett pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual conduct and two counts of lewd conduct involving a minor in October 1994, and he was arrested at Fort Leavenworth. was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Oregon State Police designated him a Level 1 sex offender, according to a copy of the registry obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
“Mr. Surlett’s background, in this case, does not change the fact that, in the face of great danger, he acted heroically in attacking and attempting to disarm an active shooter at his place of employment.” , Bend Police spokesperson Sheila Miller said. He deserves admiration for his courage and for those actions.”
Fellow veteran Kenneth Hauge revealed that Surrett was incarcerated, but didn’t like talking about it. A local chapter said they would move forward with plans for a shield honoring Saletto.
“People have problems, but he changed lives,” Hauge said. “He’s still dying.”
A Safeway spokesperson said the company screened all employees before hiring and Surrett passed a third-party background check. The company said it was unaware of his criminal record.
Surlett has been working in the company’s produce division since 2018, and records show he has lived in La Pine since at least the early 2000s. He had no criminal record in Oregon.
In a statement, Bend Police said Surrett attempted to disarm 20-year-old gunman Ethan B. Miller.
After killing Saletto, the shooter committed suicide when officers entered the grocery store. Not long ago, he shot 84-year-old Glenn Bennett at the Safeway entrance to the Forum Shopping Center. Police recovered more than 100 bullet casings from him in Safeway, outside the store, and in an apartment complex near the shooter.
In a crazy online diary believed to have been written by an archer, he claimed to have never found love and vowed to kill as many people as possible.
— Zane Sparling; email@example.com; 503-319-7083; @pdxzane
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