Correction: Initial news reports said that the 8-year-old was the suspect's daughter. The suspect was actually the boyfriend of the girl's mother.
Canby, OR – Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies saved the lives of a woman and an 8-year-old girl by fatally shooting a man who had already slaughtered four other people – including a nine-month-old infant – inside his home on Saturday night.
“[I] cannot explain just how horrific it is inside [the home],” Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Sergeant Brian Jensen told KOIN on Sunday. “It’s horrific.”
“They were not shot," Sgt. Jensen explained, according to The Oregonian. "We’re not sure what was used at this time. I’ve been told that there were numerous weapons, swords, things of that nature in the residence. The investigators are trying to determine what exactly was used to kill each person.”
The Clackamas County 911 center received a “violent and pretty hectic” 911 call from the South Barlow Road home at approximately 10:15 p.m.
“Deputies knew it was going to be a bad scene” based on that call, Sgt. Jensen said.
When they arrived at the rural residence, the deputies located the lifeless body of a woman outside.
Screams drew them into the home, where they interrupted 42-year-old Mark Leo Gregory Gago as was trying to murder his girlfriend's eight-year-old daughter.
“They then used lethal force, thus saving the child’s life,” Sgt. Jensen said.
The child and one other survivor, 40-year-old Tracy Burbank, were rushed to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Deputies found three additional bodies at the scene.
The victims have been identified as 66-year-old Jerry Bremer, 64-year-old Pamela Bremer, 31-year-old Shaina Sweitzer, and nine-month-old Olivia Gago.
Alice Burch, who lives nearby, said that the victims were all members of Gago’s family – his parents, his girlfriend, and his daughter, KOIN reported.
According to Burch, Burbank told her that one of the weapons Gago used during the attack was “an ax with a hammer head on it.”
Burbank said that Gago came at her with the ax while she was in bed, but that he missed and struck the bed instead, another neighbor told KOIN.
She let out a scream, and when no one responded, she assumed everyone else inside the home was already dead, the neighbor said.
The bloodied woman managed to escape from her attacker, and ran to a neighbor’s home for help.
“She had some visible injuries on her arms,” the neighbor said.
The fact that she was in a bunk bed during the attack likely saved her life, because Gago wasn’t able to get a “good swing” to fatally strike her, the neighbor added.
“He started to bite her and I think at that point, she wrestled and got the ax away from him,” the neighbor explained.
According to Marion County court records, Gago had been wanted for failing to pay child support. He was due to appear in court for contempt on March 25.
In August of 2018, he was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon, KOIN reported.
Sgt. Jensen said that the grisly scene inside the home shocked even the most seasoned deputies.
“It’s a once-in-a-career type of scene,” he said.
“My heart goes out to the family and to the law enforcement officers and first responders who have to deal with such a horrific scene in the course of their investigation,” Oregon State Representative Rick Lewis, a former law enforcement officer, said in a press release.
“I understand what they are going through and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for their rapid response and their quick action to save lives,” Lewis continued. “My thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
Oregon House Republican Leader Carl Wilson praised the deputies for their “quick and heroic” response, and said that their actions undoubtedly saved lives, including that of a little girl.