(NBC NEWS) Witnesses who survived a terrifying shooting at an Oregon mall teeming with holiday shoppers described a scene of chaos and panic, and the sheriff said the carnage could have been much worse if the gunman’s weapon hadn’t apparently jammed.

“He had a mission set forth to really take the lives of people within that mall,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Robert said.

The food court near the Macy’s at the Clackamas Town Center near Portland, Ore., was buzzing with holiday shoppers Tuesday afternoon when a masked gunman announced “I am the shooter” and  began randomly spraying bullets a 223-caliber semi-automatic rifle, authorities and witnesses said.

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