PORTLAND – Police identified the suspect who shot three people before getting shot by a security guard at the Mystic Gentleman’s Club in Portland last weekend.
Investigators believe Thomas Elliott Hjelmeland, 43 (pictured), opened fire in the club at Southeast Stark Street and Southeast 99th Avenue just before 9 p.m. Saturday. He remains in critical condition at a Portland hospital and has not yet been charged in this case.
Brian Rizzo, a 26-year-old security guard from the club, was hit by the gunfire at the front door and was also listed in critical condition at a local hospital. Patron Gonzalo Zamora-Hernandez, 31, and waitress Nichole Procter, 27, were treated and released with less serious injuries.
Owners of the strip club said Hjelmeland was denied entry because of belligerent behavior and racist comments. He then returned half an hour later armed with a gun and wearing a scary Halloween mask.
"The shooter came in and just started shooting without any kind of warning," victim Gonzalo Zamora-Hernandeza told KGW Monday.
Zamora-Hernandez said he was playing video poker when he was shot in the foot.
"They started screaming, 'Call 911, call 911,' and then I sit down and I start looking at my foot, so paramedics show up and they checked my foot and said, 'Yeah, you got shot,'" Zamora-Hernandez said.
Rizzo returned fire and hit the suspect was not arrested and was cooperating with police.
“Portland is a safe city; however, gun violence is pervasive. As we've seen elsewhere, it's really easy for someone with a gun to hurt a lot of people,” said Sgt. Greg Stewart with the Portland Police Bureau.
In July of 2012, a man was shot and killed in the parking lot of the same strip club. Three people were arrested in the death.
The Mystic Gentleman's Club shares a building and address with Falco's Pub, a nightclub where a woman met her suspected killers in October. Tiffany Jenks, 35, was found murdered at Fairview's Blue Lake Park and three people were arrested in connection with her death.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission said they would be renewing the Mystic Gentleman’s Club's license.