Police said Wednesday they have uncovered no motive for the shooting, which appeared to be aimed at random shoppers. Roberts pulled up to the mall in a green Volkswagen Jetta, ran into the food court, and started firing after calling out, "I am the shooter," according to police statements. After his gun jammed, he ran down a set of stairs and shot himself. An entry dated Monday on an Internet message board thread urged others to "watch the news" on Tuesday for something about Clackamas Town Center. Police said they're aware of that thread, but could not comment on its authenticity.
Roberts's friends have speculated to media outlets that the young man, who had nothing on his record but a few traffic tickets and a suspended driver's license, was heartbroken after a breakup with a girlfriend and had recently either quit or lost his job. They say he had dreamed of becoming a firefighter, had talked about buying a sandwich shop, and had said he'd received a large inheritance that would allow him to move to Hawaii and bum around the islands.
Tami Roberts, identified by news media as an aunt who raised Roberts, sent a note written on her behalf to a local TV station, which stated that she "has no understanding or explanation" for her nephew's behavior and that she "is very sad and wants everyone to know that she is so sorry [for] what Jake did. It's so out of his character."
One older male friend told reporters that Roberts seemed "numb" in the days before the shooting. Roberts had sold most of his belongings pending the Hawaii trip, but then is reported to have told different friends he had gotten drunk and missed his plane.
According to media reports, friends are perplexed by the turn of events, saying the shooting didn't fit with Roberts's character, which they described as neighborly, gentle, and fun-loving. One friend characterized him as the kind of guy who does backflips at the pool to show off. One of Roberts's high school classmates, Audrey Rook, told the Oregonian newspaper that all Roberts cared about was "making people laugh."