Canby, OR – The eight-year-old girl who was saved by police as she was being strangled by her mother’s boyfriend on Saturday night said she is thankful for the law enforcement officers who came to rescue her when she needed them most.
“Police officers, if you’re watching this, thank you,” Hailey Grimm said during an interview with KPTV.
Her mother’s boyfriend, 42-year-old Mark Leo Gregory Gago, brutally attacked Hailey and five other individuals inside his South Barlow Road residence on Saturday night.
Hailey and 40-year-old Tracy Burbank were the only two survivors.
Hailey’s mother, 31-year-old Shaina Sweitzer, and her baby sister, nine-month-old Olivia Gago, were among the four victims brutally slaughtered during the attack.
Gago was Olivia’s father, according to police.
He also murdered his mother, 64-year-old Pamela Bremer, and his stepfather, 66-year-old Jerry Bremer, inside the home, neighbors told KOIN.
Hailey said Gago barged into her room with an ax, grabbed her by the hair with his bloodied hands, and threw her up against a wall, The Oregonian reported.
He was speaking in riddles, then began strangling her, according to KPTV.
“When [the police] came in my room, he yelled, ‘No!’’ she recounted.
The officers opened fire, killing Gago, and saving the little girl.
“[I] cannot explain just how horrific it is inside [the home],” Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Sergeant Brian Jensen told KOIN on Sunday.
“They were not shot,” Sgt. Jensen said of the victims, according to The Oregonian. “We’re not sure what was used at this time. I’ve been told that there were numerous weapons, swords, things of that nature in the residence. The investigators are trying to determine what exactly was used to kill each person.”
The Clackamas County 911 center received a “violent and pretty hectic” 911 call from the South Barlow Road home at approximately 10:15 p.m.
“Deputies knew it was going to be a bad scene” based on that call, Sgt. Jensen said.
When they arrived at the rural residence, the deputies located the lifeless body of a woman outside.
Screams drew them into the home, where they interrupted Gago as he was trying to murder Hailey.
“They then used lethal force, thus saving the child’s life,” Sgt. Jensen said.
Alice Burch, who lives nearby, said that Burbank told her that one of the weapons Gago used during the attack was “an ax with a hammer head on it.”
Burbank said that Gago came at her with the ax while she was in bed, but that he missed and struck the bed instead, another neighbor told KOIN.
She let out a scream, and when no one responded, she assumed everyone else inside the home was already dead, the neighbor said.
The bloodied woman managed to escape from her attacker, and ran to a neighbor’s home for help.
“She had some visible injuries on her arms,” the neighbor said.
The fact that she was in a bunk bed during the attack likely saved her life, because Gago wasn’t able to get a “good swing” to fatally strike her, the neighbor added.
“He started to bite her and I think at that point, she wrestled and got the ax away from him,” the neighbor explained.
Hailey and Burbank were both taken to a local hospital after the attack.
“Every time I dream at night I can’t stop thinking about my mommy,” Hailey told KPTV. “I miss my mommy and Olivia a lot.”
She said the last time she saw her mother, she told Hailey that she loved her.
“She was the best mommy ever,” she said.
“I think I’m strong because of my mommy as an angel in heaven,” she said. “I think she’s gonna be my angel.”
Gago and Sweitzer first met back in 2015, while Gago was working as a caregiver for her terminally ill mother, The Oregonian reported.
Police have not disclosed a possible motive for the attack, but Hailey’s family members said that Gago had become increasingly violent over the past several weeks.
Hailey’s father, Jason Grimm, said that Sweitzer had even texted him to tell him that Gago was “abusive” towards her and that he “tried to strangle her a few different times,” Grimm told The Oregonian.
Grimm said that Hailey will soon be moving to Washington to live with him, where she will resume the third grade.
“I’m going to try to support her as much as I can, and be here for her,” he told The Oregonian. “And get her some counseling if she needs it.”