Something happened that disturbed me deeply. Last week, 20 year old Ethan Blair Miller, 20, carrying an AR-15 and a shotgun, walked into a Safeway grocery store in Bend, Oregon and began shooting. On his way into the store he killed an 84 year old man, and just continued spraying bullets as he walked through the doors. This could have been another mass shooting with a dozen people killed, if not for the courageous act of a 66 year old Safeway employee who jumped into action and attacked the shooter with a produce knife, saving the lives of countless shoppers. Unfortunately the brave man who put his life on the line to save others lost his life in doing so.
Donald Surret, Jr. was one of two people killed before the shooter turned the gun on himself. He was a 20 year veteran of the Army. On the US Department of Agriculture website, where Don worked for the Forestry service for 6 years, they posted the following tribute to Don:
He was known for his kind heart, his love of the job, his attention to uniform, his dedication to care of his wife, his connection with church and the Band of Brothers, and his diligence with visitor compliance. When Don saw something that was out of line, he did not hesitate to act, no matter how large or small the transgression.
I know Don was a proud Army veteran and I believe we will hear more of his story as he is now thrust into the national spotlight, both mourned and justly celebrated as the heroic figure directly responsible for preventing further senseless murder of innocent citizens and Safeway team members.
Donald Ray Surrett Jr. did not hesitate to act and is credited with engaging the gunman and giving coworkers and customers time to flee for safety. He made the ultimate sacrifice in service to others.
All this is tragic and disturbing but it’s not the focus of this post. What’s disturbing me is the following:
For the past week news outlets have been recognizing that Don was a hero. They praised his bravery, his service to his country and his community. There was even talk about a suitable memorial. Until… someone dug into his past and discovered that Don was convicted of a sex offense 30 years ago.
Now people are calling into question the memorial or whether Don should be considered a Hero. A local newspaper even reached out to the Safeway store in which he worked to ask how he was able to be employed there.
It’s disgusting! Irrespective of what he did thirty-plus years ago, it’s clear that the man paid his debt to society and spent decades redeeming himself. No greater proof of his current benevolent character is the fact that he confronted an armed gunman to save people’s lives, and now you want to crap on his benefaction because of something he did 30 years ago? Is that really what you want? What lesson can be learned from this?
I’ll tell you… You’re going to shame Safeway over their hiring choice when, in fact, this was the best employee they ever had! What’s more important, an employee who can stack cans of tuna or an employee who will give his own life to protect your customers? Businesses should scramble to hire more employees like Don because the pool of over-qualified candidates on the registry who are so desperate for a menial job that they will do anything for it is abundant.
Here’s the other outcome of besmirching Don’s legacy. You are conditioning the nearly one million people on the registry in this country to not get involved. It’s not worth it! See a kid on the sidewalk having a seizure, cross the street. That’s what we’re conditioned to do because with this label, even the best deed or the greatest sacrifice one can make will never overcome the stigma. It’s time to end this label.
Don Surrett was no threat to public safety. Don Surrett WAS public safety.
I am not now nor have I ever been a registered person. However, due to the way this country creates sex offenders from ordinary people with their unconstitutional stings and brands people as monsters for even the most minor trespasses and with nothing more than an accusation, I refuse to help any child. If they fall down in the street, it is up to them to save themselves. This is what their witch hunt and registry has come to. Rather than save one child, they have condemned many children who will not be helped by many who feel like this.
So, basically, your future dangerousness matters, as far as the registry goes, but your immediate actions, which cause the loss of your own life to protect others doesn’t? “People change” does not apply to our class of people! America is a Dictatorship at this point! I, personally, used to stop and help stranded drivers, which I haven’t done since my conviction. After reading this I doubt seriously that I will ever consider helping my enemies again! Or contacting authorities about crimes that I witness. We are to understand that we are no longer citizens and are treated as such no matter the good that we try to do, even at the cost of our own lives!
Check out the comments.
Are you surprised at the emotionally charged, but ignorant, comments? I didn’t read all that many, but my question to you is this… Did you post anything regarding to true statistics of reoffense rates and such? This “may” be an opportunity to do so.
No, I do not have, and certainly do not want, a Facebook account.
This is why law enforcement agencies should be taken to task over social media posts.
Their opening statement alone just serves to incite violence. The fact that people are openly discussing violence on an official police post is appalling.
I was a little bit uplifted for lack of a better word when I read most of the comments to this story after it was posted on Fox News of all places and many were positive.
At least in this instance, many folks see Donald Surrett as a man who redeemed himself.
If one convicted for a sex offense needs to die for redemption, can we all just rename ourselves Jesus? Jesus 2 through Jesus 900,000 and counting. For me, not named Jesus, I was redeemed when my victim not only visited me in prison but hugged me and said I love you when I got out and still does today, 20 years later. Society still hasn’t redeemed me.
The commenters may say thank you to Donald online but I guarantee you they think he deserved to die.
I, too, have to recommend Fox News reader comments caught by Derek Logue.
In case we can’t post links, it’s the story, ‘Man who died trying to stop Safeway shooting rampage had a criminal past: Donald Surrett, Jr. was previously convicted of child sex crimes’
Many of the comments were:
– Why are we bringing this up now;
– Obviously he’s changed;
– He’s still a hero.
“A man can walk to the end of all the roads there are, and to the end of his days, but he can nowhere lay down his past and walk away from it and never look back.”
Gary Jennings, Aztec
I have often thought of that quote as I walk down my post prison path and I too have considered the backlash I or my memory would inevitably suffer if I suddenly failed to consider all that would sully any good deed I might find myself about to commit.
One thing I know.
Don Surrett was no threat to public safety. Don Surrett WAS public safety.
This cannot be repeated enough.
If you ever have the good fortune to be faced with the opportunity to save a person’s life, do it.
Even if you don’t know or don’t like the person. Even if you feel everyone hates you and will continue to hate you.
Don’t listen to the haters who tell you, ‘but what if no one will appreciate it!’
My personal opinion anyway.
Following the mayor’s logic, then, would it have been better had more people been shot than for a “sex offender” to stop the gunman?
Or would the trauma of a long-ago victim seeing a “sex offender’s” name on a plaque be greater than the trauma of people who witnessed the shooting at the grocery store?
Also none of the reporting stations here locally that have reported on the event have mentioned that he was a registered person. Hopefully they don’t.
Only a coward and a very despicable person brings up dirt on someone after there dead. They have no way to defend themselves.
I couldn’t even finish reading this. All I can say is f#@k society in general and their judgemental and perfect ways they all live their perfect lives without any transgressions whatsoever. If I ever find myself in a situation like this hero, Donald. I damn sure won’t be no hero for no one but my immediate family and myself. Society wants to question his actions and even how he was employed? Just proves that even sacrificing your life isn’t enough.
You’ll feel better about society once you scroll through his GoFundMe page as shared by OnceFallen, below.
Yeah, the comments was a little relieving.
Thankfully the Surrett family has received a lot of donations but if these yellow journalists struck sooner, they might not have gotten a dime. I know few of us have the money to donate to the Surrett family.
It seems this is the only rag posting this filth.
personally, I’ve reached a point if I had the chance to save people in a similar manner I’d turn and walk away.
Absolutely!! It’s not even a thought for me. Even with my military background, I will completetly refuse to put my life on the line to help an ungrateful, unforgiving and judgemental society. Even though everything within me will want to intervene, I just simply won’t. Some may call it resentments. I call it boundaries.
I have posted a comment and donation at Don’s GoFundMe page as posted by OnceFallen.
From the recent comments there, I am gathering that there are many, many kind people who understand this stuff and don’t care about the media’s nonsense.
I wrote an e-mail letter to the mayor – [email protected] – of Held in regard to this matter:
Hello Anthony Broadman,
I write this email to urge you to allow a memorial to be raised for Donald Ray Surrett, Jr. not just because of his ultimate sacrifice but because a man’s redemption is possible in this politically charged world. I understand your concerns of this potential narrative because of a particular criminal past that was committed 30 years by this man and his status on the Sex Offense Registry.
I understand your concerns of political backlash if his memorial was raised by former victims of his past crime. I appreciate your consideration for the former victims’ feelings on this matter.
But I really believe there is a larger narrative that can be brought up here: A message that a man’s redemption is possible even for the most despised segment of society. A message that someone who is branded a “sex offender” can overcome his past actions and be a contributing member of society. Which is true for Donald Ray Surrett, Jr who has not committed another offense since 1994. That is why a memorial for him is important.
By doing so – it sends a message out that redemption is possible and further incentivizes the ever growing population of people that are on the Sex Offense Registry to live their best lives. It sends a message to the world that most people that have been convicted of sex crimes are reformed members of society which is true.
Please take what I have written into consideration when the city decides what to do next in this matter of erecting a memorial for Donald Ray Surrett, Jr.
Thank You for Listening,
*Feel free to copy and paste this if you want email to him too!
Wow! Really well written. I appreciate you sharing this and I’ve posted it so it has it’s own thread. It’s messages like these that will help change the narrative.
Yeah, that was superbly written!
But the registry isn’t punishment, right?
This type of stuff has been going on for decades if not century’s, This type of stuff will never go away. It’s a dam shame.
My wife and I have the running joke that if I ever did something good or bad that the headline would say, sex offender… As a veteran I believe that if he knew this is how people would react to his bravery, he would still do it. It’s easy to say how we would react, until it happens. People talk about doing the right thing. But, is it the right thing to look at this man this way for, “doing the right thing”? Society is a mess if they can’t celebrate someone who did wrong in life, but did right in the end. But heros who overcome a dark past are only celebrated in movies, not real life.
I knew it was just a matter of time before something like this happened. I’ve been going over in my mind if I was in a situation like this should I get involved to save others or just walk away knowing the spotlight would not be on the good I’d done but on what I was accused of over 25 yrs. Ago. And the harm that it would bring to my family.
Me personally, I’m walking away. Let’s say you do intervene and you happen to survive. Now you’ve become infamous. The media will spread your name across the news as if you just committed a sex offense that day. Completely reliving all that over again.
Tim, I understand your perspective completely. Although I’d like to believe that my better angels would prevail, I might hesitate or walk away. Registrants are defined by their worst action, not their best nor even the bulk of a life well lived. It is truly a shame on many levels.
At the end of the day, I can’t allow people to lord over me being on the registry. What is more important is the decision as to how I choose to live the remainder of my life. I cannot say that I would be willing to sacrifice my life for others just as easily as I could save my own life. However, I will not let being on the registry be the dominant control my life
You never outlive or outrun the stigma of being labeled a sex offender. I can’t imagine the grief and humiliation this man would have had to live with had he survived. He would have realized he risked his life for the humiliation the public heaped on him and I am willing to bet the public would questioned his heroism in life just as much as they have in death. The people that were in that store need to stand strong for the actions of the man that at the price of his life, bought them the time they needed to escape. As for the others, shame on them. This man was a model citizen and they should consider what others might say once they have passed into eternity.
For a good view on a similar story of crime and redemption, watch Les Miserables with Liam Nieson.
Great article. Maybe his sacrifice will open some eyes. People are not defined by their worst moment. May Don Surrett rest in peace.
Well said, well said!!
Some in media have no shame. It’s about selling their product, not journalism. It is naturally obvious to ANYONE else, specifically anyone not trying to capitalize on a man’s heroic death, that this man died a HERO. People are messed up and will do anything for a dollar, including putting others’ lives at risk. This is nothing new and not surprising.
Anything less than a resounding proclamation that this man was a hero is disingenuous. And we KNOW that people judging a hero like this would NEVER sacrifice themself for anyone else. Shame them and move on, they don’t deserve any attention beyond that.
Greater love hath no man than this. That a man lay down his life for his friends. But verily verily I say unto you. A man Who doth lay down his life for Complete strangers is probably art sex offender. Isn’t that what Jesus said?
According to the mayor, a plaque could re-victimize survivors by displaying his name.
The mayor actually says that.
Actually, the mayor said POTENTIALLY traumatize survivors. Survivors from 25 years ago, and likely nowhere near Bend, Oregon (there are no active duty Army posts in Oregon). And that, of course, that presumes that the minor was not a willing participant in whatever the man was convicted for.
That a minor cannot legally consent to sex doesn’t change that teenagers have very high sex drives – that’s simply nature. I’m not suggesting adult-teen sex shouldn’t be criminal, just that the criminal justice system regarding it is absurd on so many levels.
Back to the subject at hand, I would tell those that oppose anything to commemorate Surrett based solely on his previous sex charges should be confronted in that they apparently would have preferred he was never hired at that store and consequently had more people killed at that shooting.