A 20-year-old Gig Harbor woman walked into the Food Market at Lake Kathryn on Aug. 11, pulled a .357-caliber revolver out of her purse and opened fire. According to sheriff’s department officials, Laura K. Sorenson shot and wounded two men, and another received a flesh wound from a ricochet.
During a press conference at the Lake Kathryn Village Mall, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the shooting appeared to be a “random attack.”
Court reports said that the most serious victim –– a 40-year-old man –– was hit in the arm and that the bullet traveled through his chest and out his back. A 70-year-old man was shot in the leg, and the third victim, 20, received a shrapnel injury to his leg.
On Aug. 13, Sorenson was charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree assault. She was in the Pierce County jail awaiting a Sept. 21 pre-trial hearing.
Court documents said Sorensen has a history of mental illness and is on medication for it. She has had run-ins with law enforcement, but has no criminal convictions.
In his declaration of probable cause document, Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Cooper said that Sorenson told detectives she got the weapon from her grandmother’s home in Purdy on the morning of the shooting.
“The defendant said she had decided to kill herself and wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone else first,” Cooper said.
Sorenson told detectives she had been molested as a young child and hated men. She also admitted going to the store with the intent to kill someone. The report said that she put the pistol down after all the rounds were fired.
Sorenson’s actions shocked the quiet Key Peninsula community and left many citizens dazed and seeking answers.
According to one couple who rushed into harm’s way, the scene was surreal –– one filled with yelling, fear, courage and comforting.
Maureen and Greg Sikora, of Vaughn, were headed to the pharmacy next to the store on that cloudless Saturday morning.
“When we got out of the truck, we noticed a bunch of commotion going on. Somebody was yelling that there was someone in the store shooting,” Greg Sikora said.
“I heard someone yelling ‘man down, man down’ and looked up and noticed Greg going into the store. …He wasn’t going in without me,” Maureen Sikora said a couple of days after the incident.
Greg said he figured there were people injured, and that he had to help them if he could. The first thing he did was to make certain that someone had called 9-1-1. The next thing he did was to find the shooter. He spotted her standing “dumbfounded” in-between the checkout lines with the gun on the floor, about six feet away from her, he said.
“I thought I could at least get to her before she could get the gun. I yelled at her to get on the ground, now,” Sikora said flatly.
After that, he said he noticed a man lying in a pool of blood.
“The next thing I know; Maureen plopped down right on top of the girl then I started to apply pressure to his wound,” he said.
Maureen said she knew she had to keep the shooter away from the gun, and that she restrained the woman without much of a struggle.
While this was happening, the two said that the other victim was moaning and repeatedly said he was dying.
“During those first couple of moments, it seemed like time just stood still,” Greg said.
Soon, he added, concerned bystanders realized it was safe to enter the store and help with the injured. Medical responders showed up and transported the victims to Tacoma General Hospital.
“We are not heroes. We are just common folks that did something you can’t plan for, and can be proud of ourselves,” Maureen said. “Greg had to stop the blood and I had to stop anything from potentially happening further.”
Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer applauded the Sikoras’ actions but cautioned the public.
He said that everyone acts differently during these kinds of circumstances.
“They were obviously brave. They didn’t know whether there were multiple guns or someone in there with rifles. …But, they went into the situation and took care of it,” he said.
“Obviously we don’t condone that people confront shooters over a piece of property, or a purse or something,” Troyer added.
Troyer said that mental health-related incidents are escalating throughout Pierce County because of a lack of funding in this area, and that it’s taking many resources to keep up with it and potentially putting the public at risk.
“There are many people running around that aren’t being treated. Some people that should be in mental health institutions are in jail,” he said.