"I think about it every day," says mall-shooting survivor

"I think about it every day," says mall-shooting survivor
Amber Spackman

It's been one year since the shooting at Clackamas Town Center. Join KVAL News this evening at 5 and 6 p.m. for a look at the lasting impact of the shooting.

Amber Spackman was at Clackamas Town Center on December 11, 2012,  trying on dresses with her mother and sister, when the shooting happened.  The memories, and the pain, are still very strong.

"I think about it every day," said Spackman. "Not a day goes by that I don't think about any of it."

She and her family heard gun shots and knew immediately that something was very wrong.  They ran to try to save themselves, and Amber said she helped another girl along the way - Kristina Shevchenko, the teenager who was shot and survived.  It is too easy for Spackman to remember exactly how it felt during those very frightening moments.

"That's probably what hurts a lot when I think about it," Spackman said. “Not knowing what to do with my family or where to go. Of course, I got scared for myself.  It was mostly for them, because I didn't know what to do to protect them."

Amber ran out of the mall barefoot, still wearing the dress she was trying on.  When the mall re-opened, she was able to return the dress, but returning to the place where the shooting happened was - and still is - difficult.

"For me it's been a huge impact," Spackman said. "I'm mad at the person who did it. I get angry a lot. Some days I am okay with it. Some days I am really not."

Spackman and her family live near an area where hunters shoot ducks, and the sound of the gunshots often drives them inside their home. From time to time,  Spackman has trouble if she is around a large numbers of people - at the Goodwill in Sandy where she works, for example.

"Sometimes, if we're really crowded here, I'll get a little bit iffy," Spackman said during a shift.

Spackman said her mother has suffered, too.

"I think she feels it ruined this time of year for her and it ruined her sense of security as well," she said. "That's what makes me angry, that she and my sister had to go through it. It's not fair."

Spackman said many people do not understand why she and her family are still suffering from the shooting, since they did not get physically hurt.  She has gone through therapy and struggles to focus on positive things, like the idea that she was able to help one of the victims during the shooting, and that her family has grown closer together. She uses photography to help her find peace and beauty in the world.

She knows that the pain she feels, though deep, is not as intense as the families whose loved ones died in the shooting.

"That's another thing I think about constantly, is that these people don't have family members because of what someone did," Spackman said.  "I do think of them and want them to know that they are thought of."