Clackamas Concealed Carry Showdown – The Full Story

Yesterday, Jason at easybakegunclub.com interviewed Nick Meli, the Oregon concealed carry permit holder who, as we mentioned earlier, confronted Clackamas mall killer Jacob Roberts. The article (reprinted here with permission) reveals new information about Meli’s role in the incident.

The news is a funny thing sometimes. When something shocking comes out, everyone rushes to get more and more information as quickly as possible. When it comes to active shooter or active gunman situations, that rush for information often runs into the chaos of the situation. We saw that with the Newtown, Connecticut shooting where media outlets worldwide put the picture and information of the wrong person up as the gunman only to have egg on their face later. In Portland, Oregon, that same rush for information had the mainstream media skip past the fact that a concealed carrier confronted an active shooter and caused him to abandon his plans, run for a service corridor and stairway and kill himself as these shooters typically do . . .

We saw the story and it’s lack of coverage and knew it was absolutely an important story to get out. It was important for concealed carriers / gun owners rights and even more important that the full story of what happened come to life and show that these situations can be stopped quickly by a determined, well-practiced concealed carrier.

We spoke to Nick Meli, Casey, and Ashley late Sunday and got the full story direct from the people who were there… in that moment with the gunman still active and approaching. While plenty of people want to second guess, or make assumptions, we’re here to bring the full story to light here and putting all facts on the table.

On Tuesday evening Casey and Ashley went to the mall with Casey’s close friend Nick and Ashley’s 4-month-old son Noah. Ashley’s boyfriend (who is also Casey’s brother) works at the mall and the group was waiting for him to get out of a meeting. They had been in the mall for a short while and were heading to the food court to get a bite to eat. Just as the group passed the Macy’s Home Store and came to Morgan Jewelers three gunshots rang out.

What we now know was the beginning of gunman Jacob Tyler Roberts’s shooting spree came as a complete shock to everyone. Nick, holding young Noah at the time, turned to Casey and said, “Are you serious?!?”. Casey’s simple answer? “Yes”. As Ashley told us, Nick tossed Noah to her and drew his concealed carry weapon in a single motion.

Not believing the shots to be real Ashley wondered if it was possible the mall was doing active shooter training, something her boyfriend said they had done in the evenings before. Then a long series of 10-15 gunshots rang out. “Once I saw Casey under the jewelry counter and heard the other shots, I knew it was real,” Ashley told us.

Holding young Noah, Ashley’s first reaction was to turn her back to the gunfire and use her body to shield young Noah. Casey yelled at Ashley to get down so Ashley crawled under the jewelry counter, placing Noah between the two of them to keep him safe. As the girls took cover Nick, with his gun drawn, moved behind a pillar and looked towards the shots – and saw the gunmen moving towards them.

While keeping eyes on the gunman, Nick told the girls to find better cover – the counter they were under was just glass held aloft by metal legs.

Casey got to her feet and unlocked and opened the half door to get behind the store counter. She then told the others, “follow me”. In the back area of the jewelry store the girls found a closet sized bathroom and Ashley, Noah, and Casey crammed in, along with four other people who had been trapped in the open. Once in the relative safety of the bathroom one of the women, a Morgan Jewelers employee, asked Casey why Nick had a gun. Casey’s answer? “He works for a security company. He’s one of the good guys”.

That’s when the girls realized Nick had not gone to cover with them and was still faced with the gunman… and that Ashley’s boyfriend was somewhere in the mall as well – in his meeting. All the while, young Noah is crying. Knowing the gunman was still outside and not wanting to be found, Ashley started feeding Noah to keep him calm and keep him from making any noise.

Knowing the girls were more secure, Nick was now alone and the gunman was still approaching. Like most malls, Clackamas Town Center’s second floor has walkways by the storefronts with an open middle area so that light gets through to the bottom floor. The gunman was across that opening from Nick and continued to approach. Nick noted that the gunman seemed unfamiliar with the rifle we now know was stolen. Instead of clearing a malfunction cleanly, the gunman was slapping the gun and pulling the charging handle with seemingly no plan in mind.

As the gunman came closer, he turned to cross a walkway bridging the open space and connecting the two sides of the mall so he could continue his rampage inside the large Macy’s Home Store on the other side – right where Nick was standing. Nick lined put his front site on the man’s head and put his finger on the trigger. Nick has extensive firearms experience with both rifles and handguns, at the range of approximately 15-20 yards, this was a shot he knew he could make, and then… movement from behind the shooter, inside of Charlotte Russe.

As all firearms owners know, Colonel Jeff Coopers Rule #4 is to know your target and what is behind it. Now Nick knew for sure that, while he had a good target, what was behind it were innocent people who were terrified. He removed his finger from the trigger while keeping the gun on the gunman.

Then a dangerous confrontation got worse. Nick heard the distinctive sound of a malfunction being cleared in the rifle and saw the gunman reach for another magazine. As the gunman was inserting the fresh magazine, Nick quickly backed into the Macy’s Home Store and took cover while keeping his eyes on the gunman. Despite being outgunned, Nick stayed in cover but visible to the gunman.

Knowing he had an armed person in the mall and that this was no longer his gun-free zone, the gunman avoided the Macy’s Home Store and ended his rampage by fleeing to a service corridor and into the stairwell to the lower level. He then took his life, unbeknownst to everyone in the mall. “It seemed like forever but we actually heard the last shot the shooter put into himself,” said Ashley. That single ominous shot after the deafening silence that covered the mall during the gunman’s malfunction was replaced by Nick’s familiar voice shouting, “It’s me! It’s me!” right before he opened the door.

Nick said nothing of his encounter, he just said he did not know where the shooter was and that they should all remain quiet. An elderly woman in the bathroom asked where her purse was as she was not feeling well and wanted one of her blood pressure pills. Nick retrieved her medicine, told them all to remain quiet and went back in front of the store in case the gunman returned.

Knowing nothing good would come from police seeing an armed man in the mall yet knowing he could not put his gun away without knowing the mall was secure, Nick did what every concealed carrier should know to do – he called the police. Nick told the 911 operator that he was in the Clackamas Town Center, that he was armed, and that he did not know where the gunman was at that time. Nick gave a description of himself to the police so they would know he was one of the good guys and would not engage on site.

As police arrived, Nick went back and told the girls police were on scene but to stay in place. Nick holstered his weapon and began speaking with investigators and covering everything that happened – having definitive answers to much of the chaos and conflicting report. No, there was only one shooter. No, he was not white, he was Hispanic (Nick noticed that from a small gap of neck that was uncovered between the shirt and mask).

While it seemed like yet another eternity, police came and got the girls and led them out under an armed escort of seven officers. The police took them past the Macy’s Home Store which was blocked off by officers and down a service corridor to the outside. Only later did Ashley and Casey realize they had walked past the staircase the gunman had retreated to before taking his own life.

Friday night, before the story of Nick’s action had made it anywhere, Nick, Casey, Ashley, and Noah attended the vigil for Steve Forsyth and Cindy Ann Yuille the two victims killed at the very outset of the gunman’s attack. While hundreds of people gathered by candlelight and sang songs in remembrance, none outside of the small group realized that Nick had stopped the gunman and cut his rampage short – saving the people inside the mall and our nation a much greater tragedy.

No recognition is exactly what Nick would like. He has eschewed interviews and plans to continue doing so simply because he did what he felt he had to. Nick doesn’t feel he is a hero so Ashley gets the final word:

“What Nick did and the actions he took saved lives. Whether he shot or not, he changed the situation and he is the reason nobody else was shot”

For those out there that question Nick’s actions – Nick wasn’t reading words on a screen. He was faced with an active gunman who had already shot more than 20 rounds, two close friends with a small child to protect, shocked people in the mall, and it all happened in an instant. From the time the gunman entered the mall until the time he ended his life was almost 4 minutes. That’s about half the time it took to read this article.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

46 Responses to Clackamas Concealed Carry Showdown – The Full Story

  1. avatarLance says:

    Thanks for news the media cover up.

  2. avatarAlphaGeek says:

    I don’t see a clearly worded statement in there that the gunman definitely saw Nick and perceived the threat Nick presented to his plans. It’s implied, but it’s not there.

    This is a crucial point. Can we please get clarification on whether the shooter definitely saw Nick (and his gun) before retreating into the stairwell?

    • avatarRalph says:

      The only person who can answer that question definitively is dead.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      For what it’s worth, I’d be perfectly happy to see a statement along the lines of “I don’t know whether the shooter saw me clearly. It’s impossible to say for sure. All I know is that after I moved into his line of sight, he stopped shooting and retreated into the stairwell.”

    • avatarEasy Bake Gun Club says:

      Perhaps I could have worded that differently. Nick and the gunman were standing almost directly in front of each other on the walkway. Nick had moved away from the pillar to get the shot.

      The gunman most definitely knew Nick was there.

  3. avatarTaurus609 says:

    Newtown?

  4. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I hope this story gets more coverage than it currently is. Hopefully this post will help with that.

    That said, I really wish people would get someone else to proofread before hitting “Post.”

    “Nick lined put his front site on the man’s head…”
    aiming mechanism = sight, location = site

    “and would not engage on site.”
    As opposed to engaging offsite?

  5. avatarMoose says:

    Excellent story, I do believe I will be sharing this with a good many people.

  6. avatarLongPurple says:

    The mall was reported to be a “gun free zone”.
    1. Is that true?
    2. What punishment can Nick Meli expect if he was armed in a “gun free zone”?

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Unless it’s a state where “no guns” signs carry the weight of law (and I don’t feel like looking it up right now), he can expect no punishment whatsoever. In those locations, the only way you can get in legal trouble is if the owners/management become aware of the weapon, ask you to leave, and you refuse, at which point they can call the cops and have you trespassed.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Clearly the police didn’t consider it to be an issue worthy of consideration. Not the level of legal clarity we might want, but the sort of rational common-sense handling of the situation we should hope for.

      I’m sure the fact that Nick reportedly didn’t fire his gun at all also helped keep him out of trouble. Discharging your weapon takes things to a whole new level of seriousness in terms of LEO interactions.

    • avatarGabeS says:

      In OR “No Guns” signs hold the force of law. If Meli entered the mall knowing that guns were prohibited then he was breaking the law. Criminal trespass with a firearm. At the very least he could lose his CHL.

      I know that in other mall in the are that the “no guns” signs are very small, with tiny print. Unless you are looking you would be hard pressed to notice the sign. In one mall I’ve noticed that they are not on every entrance door.

      The key aspect in the ORS is “knowingly enter.” Small, unobtrusive sign, you could make a claim that you did not know. However, since Meli used to be a guard at that very mall – I’m sure he knew the mall’s policy.

      In any case there is an issue if mall in OR can legally prohibit legal guns on the premises since it could be considered quasi-public property. I certainly hope that Meli does not get in trouble – as you should be able to carry anyplace open to the public – but I believe he could.

      • avatarRon Burgundy says:

        If Nick gets prosecuted for that, with the risk of losing his CHL, I will contribute to his legal defense.

      • avatarLongPurple says:

        I doubt if it would mean an arrest or any charges, if the facts are as stated.
        How bad would it be for any prosecutor to criminalize the guy who stopped the slaughter without firing a shot? Of course in New Jersey he’d be thrown in jail for “brandishing” a gun.

        • avatarBruce says:

          There are no signs I’ve ever seen at Clackamas Town Center stating “No Guns” or “Gun Free Zone”. I have looked hard for them and was there the first day they reopened after the shooting. I exited and entered the mall through a few different doors and saw nothing. In Oregon, you can’t be arrested for Criminal Trespass unless you have been asked to leave and refuse, or leave and return. Nick was within his rights.

      • avatarBill says:

        You’d better check your facts. As long as you have your valid OR CHL you can ignore the no gun signs unless you are on federal or state property where guns are not permitted.

      • avatarBill says:

        You need to do more research. As long as you have in your possession a valid CHL you are breaking no laws by carrying in a posted area prohibiting guns. It is specifically stated as such in ORC and that also includes both public and private schools. Now, if you are on private property and are asked to leave due to their policy and your negligence in allowing someone to actually see your weapon then you must leave or you in danger of being cited for Criminal Trespass. It is that same as “No shoes, No shirt, No service”. Any business can refuse to serve you at their discretion and you must abide by their policy.

  7. avatarg says:

    A hair-raising tale, but one that needs to be heard. I appreciate Nick’s humility and his desire to stay out of the spotlight – hopefully more witnesses or a cop is interviewed who can repeat the facts to let people know that not every person with a gun is an evil maniac. Good guys carry too.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      I’m a little conflicted on that. I respect his humility and desire to STFU after a dangerous situation where he was ready to shoot, but on the other hand, we need a hero to hold up as an example of what we believe.

      • avatarNASOR says:

        Anything more that Nick does could very well be seen as self promotion. If you think we need a hero, make sure his part in this event gets known.

  8. avatarSaul Feldstein says:

    While this story clearly shows the postive aspect of CCW, and this guy did the right thing, there is no indication the shooter identified any armed opposition and that it somehow changed his plans.

  9. avatarRob says:

    I want to say that this guy is the reason why the shooter broke off and killed himself, but I haven’t seen anything that truly indicates that he saw Meli or the gun.

  10. avatarSlappy says:

    With the number of conceal carry permit holders rising exponentially and very rapidly, one can only hope this story will play out again when another sick bastard makes the next attempt at a mass shooting.

    Imagine if that person was to see/read this account in the lamestream media; perhaps they would think twice. Either way it is a sad testament to the dis-service the media does the public day in and day out!

  11. avatarAccur81 says:

    I guess Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave still has some meaning. I consider Nick to be a hero – and he certainly demonstrated exceptional courage confronting an active shooter. Nick’s actions clearly saved lives, at the risk of his own. There’s a man who should never pay for a beer again for the rest of his life.

  12. avatarmountocean says:

    I do not want to second guess Mr. Meli. He was there, not me. He had seconds to decide, I’ve been thinking about it for hours. I can’t even concieve of a better outcome than what he brought about. If anything I hope to reveal his actions as more comendable, because he wasn’t simply reacting to rote memorized rules, but making split second decisions.

    But, for the sake of discussion: Rule #4 doesn’t tell us “don’t shoot if there is someone behind your target”. It just admonishes us to be aware so we can make a decision based on the risks.

    • avatarBill says:

      I guess you’re supposed to use good judgement in applying rule 4 and not shoot when there’s the possibility of hitting an innocent. I would hope that most CHL holders would exercise that judgement.

  13. avatarJason says:

    Robert,

    You wrote “Newton” instead of “Newtown”.

    • avatarJake in AK says:

      I’d argue he did make a decision. He decided that the risk overcame the “reward” of shooting- but like you I wasn’t there. I’d have to say that he did very, very well for having only a few seconds to decide.
      Many shooters get “tunnel vision” when stressed- heck most people get tunnel vision, and I can think of few more stressful situations then to engage a bad guy carrying a rifle while only having a pistol to defend yourself and others with.

  14. avatarSanchanim says:

    Thanks for giving him a call RF.
    It is always good to hear the real news. It is unfortunate we may never really know, but I can only assume the guy wasn’t out of bullets, and cleared his rifle, so why end it there? He could have kept going.. My guess is he knew something was up. We got lucky, and I am glad to hear Nick is ok.
    Absolutely cute baby BTW!

  15. avatared says:

    You can clearly see from the interview that Nick Meli is a good guy. Very soft spoken and very humble. You are a hero Nick whether you like it or not. You protected your friends and didnt run and hide despite your own fears. That is pretty much a hero in my book. Hope I get to shake your hand one day.

  16. avatarspeedracer5050 says:

    Kudo’s to you Nick!!! If we ever meet I will buy you beer’s till you say enuff or I am broke!!
    This is why the stories of this and other DGU’s need to be gotten into mainstream media any way we can!!
    Even though he never fired I believe in my gut this man stopped what could have been a worse tragedy than it was!!
    Kudos again and Thank You Sir!!

  17. avatarJAS says:

    Excellent article and it is very important that this is now in the open. That said, I know I can only make a head shot (inside 3-inches), 50% of the time (ON THE FIRST COLD SHOT) at the distances mentioned. Subsequent shots are a whole different story. It is very hard to do – try it sometime. I think he knew in his heart he could not pull it off either. I commend him for that. 7-yards is a different story. I can make that cold shot shot 95% of the time at that distance. We all have to know our limitations.

    The important thing is that someone with a gun was there and the shooter saw him. And that seems to have been enough to end the thing.

  18. avatarTad Nugent says:

    You gun nuts all have such silly little-boy fantasies about being the Big Tough Guy with The Big Gun who saves the day.
    Silly, stupid fantasies.. you are all little Barney Fifes, shaking and cowardly.

    • avatarspeedracer5050 says:

      And you Sir are a pompous, arrogant fool with delusions of grandeur and self importance. I would say what you really are but we don’t use the “T” word here unless absolutely necessary and You are not worthy of such honors.

    • avatarBill says:

      Aren’t you precious! Now run on back to your My Little Pony show and let the adults talk OK sunshine?

        • avatarjoe says:

          TadNugent,
          Yea right, YOU are the wimpy little BarneyFife who
          carries a cell phone or types crap on the computer. Why do you think that we are the ones who want to act BIG when actually WE do this to protect ourselves and IDIOTS like you if the situation
          ever occurred. I hope I never am in a situation as this
          as shooting someone is the LAST thing I want to do, and now it is getting to the point that WHY WOULD I
          risk my life,other than saving my own, with the chance of being killed to SAVE A LIFE SUCH AS YOU whom degrade and disrespect my right to bear arms of the 2nd amendment. You people do not believe in America as it should be, you want Obama to protect you, you do not have the guts to stand up
          against your government when it is getting out of control, you would rather hide. YOU want to take away our 2nd amendment right without knowing that without that right, your other rights ARE GONE PERIOD.
          Why dont you get some balls and act like a man?
          I am so glad I did not have someone like you by my side during the Vietnam war. WE were brothers whom looked out for each other at all costs, that includes maybe losing our lives for each other, and NOW in this day I see people like you as the real
          Barney Fifes’ of the world.
          BOTTOM LINE: WHY DO I HAVE A GUN?
          ITS OUR 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHT, PERIOD,ENOUGH SAID, AND THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY.
          GOOD DAY,
          JOE
          VIETNAM VET

      • avatarTwilight Sparkle says:

        Hey, don’t knock My Little Pony. I’ll have you know Rainbow Dash would have been first in line to congratulate Nick Meli for his heroic actions.

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