A man lauded as a hero for confronting a shooter inside an Oregon grocery store Sunday was convicted of child sex crimes while in the Army decades ago.
Donald Surrett, Jr. died while trying to stop 20-year-old Ethan Blair Miller’s shooting rampage. Police said Surrett’s decision cost him his life but likely saved the lives of others.
Information from state court records and the Oregon State Police’s sex offender registry indicates Surrett did not reoffend after his prison release,the lowest classification in the state and an indication he was not considered a high risk for reoffense.
Video shows 66-year-old Surrett hid behind a produce cart until the gunman, who had near the store entry shot and killed 84-year-old Glenn Bennet, looked the other way and then attacked him with a knife, police said.
“Mr. Surrett’s background does not change the fact that in this instance, when faced with great peril, he acted heroically in attacking and attempting to disarm an active shooter in his place of work,” Miller said. “While Mr. Surrett’s past may complicate how people feel about his legacy, his actions in the moment were courageous and for those actions, he deserves praise.”
Surrett is truly a hero. He showed society that registrants are not the evil caricatures that society wants to paint us as being. Fox News (!) quoting a cop (!) saying a registrant was a hero will have a positive impact on society. Maybe not a massive one, but enough to make some people challenge their stereotypes.
I have seen this happen personally. You may have heard me share how telling some angry protesters a few years ago radically changed the attitudes of at least one of them.
Surrett could have said “the hell with society for putting me on the registry” and stayed low profile, but instead he put his life on the line to save lives. At least the survivors will remember and respect him.
You already know that ACSOL is able to make our lives better in the courts, but also in the harder work of changing society’s attitudes by registrants and their families having the courage to share with others in appropriate circumstances, such as in the office of a politicians in Sacramento or one-on-one with a family member or friend.
No people group has ever changed society’s attitudes toward them only by sitting at home. Gays, blacks, Native Americans and many others have risked things like being firehosed (e.g. Rev. King) or arrested for peaceful protest (gays in the 60s and 70s).
Are we registrants willing to do the same?
Surprised that most of the comments were supportive.
Shot at “Safeway.” So the grocery chain will be renamed “Not Safeway” from this day on. Hero or not, he died to gun violence. Which is occurring in epidemic levels.
And THAT my friends, is why the chip on my shoulder is SO BIG, that if aliens showed me the cure for cancer; I’d forget it ever happened. Fux News had wall to wall coverage of my arrest and the 2 mistrials; but nobody reported, when the case was dropped. I’m like Gary Condit, never convicted, but reputation destroyed.
What the heck does his past behavior from decades ago have to do with his current actions? Why even mention it at all? That pisses me off. His past behavior does not define who he was in the current time. It is like people must find a way to put others down no matter what to make them feel better about themselves.
Ima use this guy as an example in every argument when people try dehumanizing people forced to register.
This guy literally died to prove a point to the American public that he was not what they labeled him and that all people forced to register aren’t all scary monsters sitting around plotting on little kids all day
This guy died for all People Forced to Register in this country.
I bet that story doesn’t make national news.
I wrote an e-mail letter to the mayor – firstname.lastname@example.org – 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 ago 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!
A while back my wife came running in from outside to tell me that she and another neighbor noticed the next-door neighbor lady was screaming for help from her back bedroom.
Unmarried with an occasional drop-in boyfriend She and her toddler lived with another woman, a Pit Bull, and a Rottweiler.
My first thought was one of the dogs had attacked her little girl or her. Secondly, I wondered if she was being attacked by her boyfriend or some other person.
I rushed around the side of her house where the screams were coming from and yelled back to ask what was wrong, but with no response.
I then picked up a brick as some defense and opened her front door yelling “I’m coming in”, with still no response other than some loud whimpering from the back bedroom.
As I opened the bedroom door I saw the Pit Bull Release his grip on the Rottweiler’s neck while both ladies were sitting on the floor trying to pull them apart.
One lady had a bleeding wound on her wrist and had to go to the doctor.
I was happy no one, including myself (a 72-Year-old Reg Citizen) was seriously injured.
Sounds like this man was a good samartian act to me consider the circumstances. If you really think about it we are all on probation and yes this guy was brave in many ways. Some would just walk away. Call it combat techniques in so many ways.
I’ll just take a wild guess.
Once people learned that Surrett’s an SO registrant, all of the sudden, he is somehow no longer the hero which he was just previously regarded as, right?
They, in fact, wanted to celebrate that he was killed, because it was somehow “deserved”. Right?
Who was once regarded as a dangerous hitman who ought to live the rest of life in jail, Miller has now all of the sudden been turned 180 degrees around as the hero. He (Miller) is now revered for being a hitman, despite being completely abhorred just moments before for aberrantly being one. Right?
Before, people would have wanted a “maximum sentence” for Miller. Now, having learned of Surrett’s registration status, they’re crying for Miller to be “rewarded” a reduced sentence. Right?
Seriously, am I right??
Heh. Angry, irrationally fearmongering citizens have become so predictable, it’s not even comedic anymore.
This incident reminds me of Will Smith’s movie 7 Pounds, about a man who atoned for past behavior through sacrificing his own life. It was kind of a sad movie. Personally, I would never try and be a hero as long as I’m on the registry. Although this Oregon man had a short moment of glory in the spotlight, he had to wait until he was dead to receive it.
Is there some sort of funding for a campaign to make this story go viral? Like paying a few thousand to CNN to publish the story. Having some P.R. people from Narsol or something spread this story. This is the story we need for the masses to see!
In my humble opinion, this man did what he instictively would do in any fight or flight situation regardless of his past. He did not want to be a victim.
In the flight/fight situation some, or I would say most, choose flight. Donald chose fight. Only in his mind will we know if he was trying to save only himself or others.
If the media would not have brought up his past, he would be remembered as a man who fought back and as a hero (no matter if it was for himself or others).
Then the registrant advocacy seizes the opportunity (just like the media did) to also input an opinion. Sigh.
In any type of unexpected altercations when violence occurs, those who can get away, run, those whose can’t get away, hide or freeze and of those, a very few confront the threat. Donald was one of those who confronted the threat. Obviously he was fighting for his life as there had been multiple shots fired already. Was he also fighting for others’ lives?
Nobody knows (not yet anyway as video has yet to be publicized). Yet not only did the media pounce, registrant advocates did too. Hmm.
First, I would like to take a moment to wish the victims of this tragedy, their families and this community my condolences for this horrific event. My heart heart goes out to you all. As well as the family and loved ones of our hero, brave Mr. Surrett. The world could use more bravery, thank you for showing us that. If only it did not come in such a tragic way at such a high price.
As to the mention of him be a registrant, I am of two minds. Yes, perhaps we could just view him as a brave man who did a heroic thing and leave his past in his past, where it belongs. However, the educational value of people knowing he is BOTH a registrant AND a hero, is great, but at far too costly a price….far too much.
This inclusion of his past was inevitable. We all know that the registry never lets your past go, it throws it in your face as much as possible. Every time they sneer, or call you names, make you feel uncomfortable enough to leave or not even go…the constant fear of these things and the violence they all threaten. Apparently not even our hero can be spared one final dig. Even in heroic death.
I weep for this Nation and this world sometimes.
The man not only sacrificed his life for the country, via military service, but ended up sacrificing his life in that Safeway.
How did this Shithole Country thank him? They, the courts, judges, and “government,” made him register as a “Registered Sex Offender.”
Again, Shithole Country.
What really bothers me is that the Oregon registry did not publicly list the status of this man. But media hounds somehow found out…either by running a criminal check or combing thru courthouse documents. Or maybe a victim came forward. If so, it still doesn’t make it right to broadcast his past mistakes to the public. A real journalist would have simply ignored the noise, and stuck with the actual story about a man who sacrificed his life to save others.
There were some very good comments on the news article, but I noticed one that continues to spread misinformation about people who commit sex crimes having the highest recidivism rate. I wanted to jump in and say something but didn’t feel like signing up to create an account.
One thing that bothers me is how the city was talking about his past may hinder any efforts to erect a plaque or statue in his honor. I’m wondering why city officials didn’t feel the same way when a statue of George Floyd was erected. He had an extensive criminal history, including holding a gun to a pregnant woman’s abdomen, and died while resisting lawful arrest. I don’t condone the officer’s actions that caused hos death, but to erect a statue to laud him as a hero worthy of public praise is sickening.