Virtually Unreported: CCW Holder Likely Prevented Larger Clackamas Mall Death Toll

December 16th, 2012 2:21 PM

If certain aspects of stories relating to an incident of gun violence don't fit the template, they usually doesn't get reported at all. But if such things somehow get some local exposure, they rarely escape into the broader national news environment. What follows is an example of the latter.

On Saturday, Dan Zimmerman at the Truth About Guns blog (HT Instapundit) asked a quite logical question about the horrible murders at Oregon's Clackamas Mall on December 11, and referred readers to a report from local Portland TV station KGW (video at link) which provides the probable answer:

Have you wondered why, in such a target rich environment as a suburban shopping mall two weeks before Christmas, the shooter at the Clackamas Town Center only managed to kill two people before dousing his own lights? Part of the reason was a dodgy gun. But as is being reported by, part was also due to the fact that, gun-free zone or not, Jacob Roberts was confronted by Nick Meli who was armed and has a concealed carry permit.

KGW's text report, which mostly tracks the on the scene reporter's verbiage, follows. I'll address the video's studio introduction after that (bolds are mine throughout the rest of this post):

Nick Meli is emotionally drained. The 22-year-old was at Clackamas Town Center with a friend and her baby when a masked man opened fire.

"I heard three shots and turned and looked at Casey and said, 'are you serious?,'" he said.

The friend and baby hit the floor. Meli, who has a concealed carry permit, positioned himself behind a pillar.

"He was working on his rifle," said Meli. "He kept pulling the charging handle and hitting the side."

The break in gunfire allowed Meli to pull out his own gun, but he never took his eyes off the shooter.

"As I was going down to pull, I saw someone in the back of the Charlotte move, and I knew if I fired and missed, I could hit them," he said.

Meli took cover inside a nearby store. He never pulled the trigger. He stands by that decision.

"I'm not beating myself up cause I didn't shoot him," said Meli. "I know after he saw me, I think the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself."

Note that apparently no other shots were fired after the shooter allegedly became aware of Meli. If that's the case, Meli's armed presence arguably saved an untold number of lives.

That makes the studio introduction of the segment extremely odd, or worse:

Now to an untold story on the shooting at Clackamas Town Center. We now know there was another armed man in the mall that day: a shopper, who had the shooter in his gunsight but never pulled the trigger. The Night Team's Mike Benner is live outside the mall, and Mike, the big question for many tonight would be "Why didn't he shoot?"

That's a strange introduction for a situation where you know that the answer is that Meli didn't want to hurt an innocent person, and that no one else was killed or injured (except the shooter, who killed himself) as a result of Meli's decision not to fire.

I would also not discount the notion that the shooter decided to end his life when he realized that the alternative might be getting shot himself and surviving to spend the rest of his life behind bars or mental institutions.

Saturday afternoon, Eugene Volokh cited four examples of "shootings in which a civilian armed with a gun intervened and brought down the shooter." Those situations end up forcing the press to report the facts.

The story above clearly didn't. A Google News search on Nick Meli's full name in quotes at 11:00 a.m. ET returned no other story.

Earlier this week, a group of Democratic Party politicians in Oregon co-sponsored "a bill that would ban semi-automatic rifles classified as assault weapons." It appears that the legislation would, if enacted, have banned Meli from carrying his Glock (disclosed in the video coverage, but not the text). Mall shoppers who survived that day, their families, and the public should be asking the dimwitted dozen how much worse the death toll might have been on December 11 if Meli had instead been unarmed -- if they only knew the story the press won't tell.

Cross-posted at