Safeway Union Worker, US Army Medic Veteran, Died Confronting Bend Shooter
Donald Surrett Jr, 66, died confronting the shooter. Also killed, 84 year old Veteran Glenn Edward Bennett.
This past Sunday evening wasn’t unlike any other in every town in America. In a busy shopping area, families young and old, teenagers, and everything in between were out and about shopping for their weekly staples. In many ways, Bend, Oregon is akin to Littleton 20 years ago. It also represents a looking glass to where Bozeman, Missoula, and Helena will likely exist 10-20 years from now in both size and demographic. Many of the same developers are putting their sights on Bozeman, and they are bringing with them out of state workers and lobbying for right to work legislation. In its throngs of growth at all costs over the last few years, a wave of folks have moved to Bend, putting pressures on long standing workers on the front line to do more, work more, and put up with more pressures just to eat. Sound familiar?
One such worker was US Army medic veteran, Donald Surrett Jr., UFCW Local 555 member, who found himself stocking the produce shelves Sunday evening. Just a few isles away, Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, another Army veteran, shopped for himself and his widowed sister. Outside, shortly after 7 PM, a shooter armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle had just published his manifesto and began firing. Almost immediately, hundreds of ordinary men, women, and children found themselves running for their lives.
Inside, the shooter shot aimlessly and hit Glenn Edward Bennett, killing him. The shooter made his way to the back of the store where a family of 5 had just exited. Instead of finding more complacent victims, he found union member and Army veteran Donal Surrett, Jr. While the details are not entirely clear, police have stated that Mr. Surrett confronted the attacker and attempted to disarm him. Unfortunately, in stopping the attacker, Mr. Surrett was mortally wounded in the process. The shooter took his own life within 4 minutes of the ordeal starting, brining the total deceased to three.
Dan Clay, President of UFCW 555 gave the following statement - “As the Union representing Grocery workers at Safeway, UFCW Local 555 is heartbroken to see American workers once again face the unthinkable. In retail spaces, gun violence is becoming increasingly common. What should have just been a normal evening erupted into a mass shooting event that cut lives short, and will forever leave scars in the community. Retail workers should not go to work facing violence, and deserve more protection than our society has chosen to afford them”.
Where do we go from here?
To think that events like this are not headed to Montana would be naïve, and it’s best to prepare our workforces now. The adage that, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” has proven false. Bend has a high concentration of gun carrying citizens, proving that more guns are not the answer to an MMA trained shooter with an assault rifle. The answer is clear. There is no sane purpose for assault style rifles to be in the hands of the public, and grocery workers should not be considered combat martyrs for the right to access a niche market of firearms.
Write your Congressman and Senators
It’s tough to take action ahead of an incident. It takes thought and foresight, but planting the seed of a safer future for Montana's union members is essential to securing that vision. Write your senators and congressman and tell them we need to ban assault rifles for the public. Tonight, say the name of Donald Ray Surrett Jr. and hug your family. Tomorrow, they could be victims in the produce aisle of your grocery store in America. Most all of us in Montana are responsible gun users. It’s time we have those tough conversations, meet in the middle, and take action so that our brothers and sisters aren’t left to the whims of an irrational individual.
Write your senators and congressmen now.