January 19, 2019
Clackamas County, Oregon
Mark Gago kills his girlfriend, their infant daughter, and his parents before he is fatally shot by police
Gago’s roommate awoke to Mark swinging an axe at her in her room. She initially thought he was “just playing around,” though he continued to swing. Mark struck the roommate in her back, then in her pelvis when she lifted a leg. He climbed onto her back and bit her before she managed to escape, running barefoot through broken glass in the process, to call 911. She told dispatchers Mark wielded an “ax hammer” and believed the other occupants in the home were deceased. The weapon was described as an axe blade with a blunt hammer-like back.
Amid the clutter-strewn home peppered with swords, knives, and guns, deputies found the bodies of Mark’s girlfriend Shaina Sweitzer, her 9-month-old daughter Olivia Gago, and Mark’s mother and stepfather Pam and Jerry Bremer. Autopsies later revealed all had sharp force trauma injuries while Jerry also had blunt force trauma wounds. Additionally, Jerry had been decapitated while Olivia and Shaina had massive head trauma. Deputy Nate Ariel described the scene later, speaking of the blood on the walls: “It looked like somebody had a blower with, like, red paint and just coated the walls. I mean, it looked, it was, like, impossibly fake.”
Deputies heard the “distressed” voice of a young girl and made their way to a bedroom. They called to her to come out, to which she responded she could not. The deputies entered to find Mark holding the girl in a “hostage hold,” positioning her body in front of his while keeping her in a headlock. During this time Mark enigmatically told deputies, “They lied to me. They lied to me.”
Deputy Tanner Davis told interviewers later: “I couldn’t tell you whether a deputy grabbed [the child], whether the dude threw her, or whether God fricken caused an event to occur, but that girl went from being in his control to being literally like at my thigh on the bed in front of me. She landed facedown.” Once Shaina’s daughter was clear, deputies fatally shot Mark. The officer-related shooting was later ruled justified.
Shaina’s elder daughter’s biological father was able to recount her story to the press later. He stated his daughter was in her bedroom when she heard her mother cry, Mark yell, and Olivia cry. The home went silent momentarily and she heard dripping coming down the hall to her room. Mark opened her door, ax in hand. He grabbed her hair and began to strangle her against the wall when she heard a noise which caused Mark to pause and allowed her to regain her breath; the noise was the deputies confronting Mark. She also stated that during the incident Mark was “speaking in riddles.”
The motive behind the murders is unknown, though the roommate explained Mark had a fascination with knives and talked about a government conspiracy against him.
A GoFundMe account was created to ensure the surviving child “gets the counseling and medical help she will need for healing mentally and physically.” As of January 19, 2020, the page is still active.
“‘There is someone else alive in this house.’ Deputies describe saving girl from killer who wiped out family.” The Oregonia. May 10, 2019. Accessed: January 19, 2020. https://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/2019/05/there-is-someone-else-alive-in-this-house-deputies-describe-saving-girl-from-killer-who-wiped-out-family.html
“Deputies cleared in fatal shooting of suspected family killer Mark Gago.” KATU. February 6, 2019. Accessed: January 19, 2020. https://katu.com/amp/news/local/deputies-cleared-in-fatal-shooting-of-suspected-family-killer-mark-gago
“8-year-old survivor of quadruple homicide thanks deputies who saved her.” WWSB. January 22, 2019. Accessed: January 19, 2020. https://www.mysuncoast.com/2019/01/22/year-old-survivor-quadruple-homicide-thanks-deputies-who-saved-her/
“”Shocking scene”: Deputies find 4 bodies, then shoot suspect trying to kill girl.” CBS News. January 21, 2019. Accessed: January 19, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mark-gago-kills-4-family-members-is-shot-as-he-tried-to-kill-another-girl-clackamas-county-sheriffs-office/