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The skies above the Clackamas Town Center were filled with gray clouds and rain Saturday afternoon, Dec. 15.

But a horrific shooting incident that took place at the mall on Tuesday, Dec. 11, cast an even darker pall on the community, even more so than the wet winter weather.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the national spotlight turned to Clackamas, until an even more heinous shooting happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, Dec. 14. The death toll from that shooting was 26, with 20 of the victims being young children.

But by Saturday, the scene at the Clackamas Town Center was returning to normal.

Drivers circled the parking lot waiting for other shoppers to vacate their spots. The only major noticeable difference was the presence of Clackamas County Sheriff’s Posse members riding atop horses, one of which sported green reindeer antlers.

Inside the town center, it was almost as if nothing had happened. The Starbucks was packed with customers waiting for their drinks. Santa took gift requests from children. A train rolled by, with the conductor at the wheel clanging the bell.

People perused products and discussed potential purchases. In other words, it was business as usual.

The kids’ play area in front of Sears was untainted by the Dec. 11 incident, which resulted in the deaths of two shoppers and the 22-year-old gunman. Children of all ages ran around in circles, blissfully unaware of what had happened in the upstairs food court area less than a week ealier.

Less than 20 miles away in Estacada, the shooting continued to send reverberations through the community.

At the downtown store The Artsmith, owner Allen Cameron said the discussion had turned from the Clackamas shooting to the Connecticut incident.

“People are basically shocked about it,” Cameron said.

Next door, at The Book Nook, volunteer Cody Klaetsch was at a loss for words to describe what had taken place.

“It’s terrible,” he said. “Why would anyone do that?”

But both Cameron and Klaetsch agree that they are unlikely to avoid the town center strictly because of what occurred there.

“I don’t let that type of incident bother me,” Cameron said. “What really are the odds of a guy showing up and doing it again?”

The biggest reminder at the town center is upstairs at the food court. Right beside an oversized Christmas tree, wreaths bear the names of the victims, with an array of flower bouquets laid out for them.

A table has been set up for the American Red Cross and memory books are available for people to sign, with memorial stars for the tree also present for purchase.

Donations for a fund established to assist the victims can be made to the Clackamas County Peace Officers’ Benevolent Foundation. Checks can be made payable to CCPOBF and sent to PO Box 426 in Oregon City, 97045 with CTC Victim Fund written in the memo line. They can also be made in person at any branch of the Clackamas Federal Credit Union.

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