Rachel Burbank was as captivated by news of this week’s mall shooting near Portland as much as anyone. But it really hit her hard when she found out the gunman who killed two before taking his own life was a friend she saw nearly everyday.
Burbank, the younger sister of KIRO Radio’s Luke Burbank, spoke with The Andrew Walsh Show Wednesday night.
She’d heard about the shooting Tuesday and followed news of it closely, but when she went to bed police still hadn’t identified the shooter. She was floored when she started surfing her Facebook feed Wednesday morning.
“It was totally surreal because I was cruising down reading stuff about the victims’ families and everything and then it gets down to the suspect.”
There was a picture of Jacob Tyler Roberts.
“It took me a second to register who and why I recognized him because I don’t know what I was expecting to see, but it was not him.”
Burbank says she was stunned to think the cute guy who worked at the gyro place next door was capable of such violence.
“I freaked out. I was like ‘Oh my gosh. It can’t really be him, but the name’s right, the picture’s right, it’s obviously him.'”
Burbank says she’d seen him nearly everyday for the past year. They weren’t romantically involved, but the pair had gone out drinking and played pool together several times. There was never any indication he was anything but a nice, cool young guy.
“My friends would always make fun of me because I would call him cute Jacob because he was very cute, attractive, and a really friendly guy.”
They talked about “random stuff,” nothing that stood out as strange.
“He was super-duper friendly and talkative and sweet, and he was a totally fun guy,” she says.
Burbank is as baffled as anyone else. All she knows is the cute hipster who sported a few tattoos and loved watching old movies on VHS in the little gyro shop is a killer. As new details of the shooting and the discovery of his body in a mall stairwell continued emerging, the shock grew.
“It was tearing at me because I was like wow, that entire time, that kid that I know is in there.”
Burbank says while she’s not overcome with grief for the shooter, she does feel tremendous sadness for his family and the victims’ families.
“That’s got to be a whole pile of stuff to deal with, you know,” she says.