"My 5-year-old was covering her ears and crying. I was frantic to find a place to run, and I looked back -- my son in my stroller and glass is falling over us," she said. "The shots were getting closer."
She added, "I felt like sitting ducks where we were."
During a brief halt in the gunfire, a man helped hustle the family members into a cosmetics store, where they hid for an hour "waiting to see if we were going to be shot or not."
As word spread that the shooter was moving from store to store, customers at Sears burst into tears, Christina Fisher told KOIN.
"We were told to stand in a group by the top of the escalators and stay away from the windows out of the aisle. ... We stood there for probably a good 20 minutes," she said. "All of the sudden, somebody came through with a radio, yelling, 'Get down!' "
As the mayhem unfolded, some customers watched television reports about the shooting from inside the Sears entertainment center, Tylor Pedersen told affiliate KGW.
Antonio Charro spotted a wounded woman near a cell phone store and tried to help.
"She had apparently been shot in the chest, and I couldn't get her turned over to help her," said Charro, who had been shopping at the mall with his daughters. "There was no one around. She wasn't breathing."
Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said about 10,000 people were in the mall at the time.
No law enforcement officers fired any shots when they arrived, sheriff's Sgt. Adam Phillips said.
The 1.4 million-square-foot mall remained closed Wednesday as investigators looked for clues about the attack.
Rowland said she's grateful she got distracted while shopping and didn't venture farther into the mall.
"I think if I hadn't stopped to smell that perfume, that maybe me and my baby wouldn't be here today."