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Chris Harper-Mercer Kills 9 People in a Shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon

October 1, 2015 


Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, who killed 9 people and injured 9 others in a shooting at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, October 1, 2015. Candle light vigil after the shooting.


Oregon gunman may have killed more if not for hero student

Reuters, Friday, October 2, 2015, 7:32pm EDT

By Eric M. Johnson and Courtney Sherwood

ROSEBURG, Oregon --

The gunman who went on a deadly rampage at an Oregon college was heavily armed and equipped with extra ammunition, authorities said on Friday, and he might have killed more people were it not for the heroism of a military veteran in an adjoining classroom.

A day after the shooter killed nine people and wounded nine others at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, authorities sought a motive for this year's bloodiest mass shooting in the United States, where such massacres have grown all too common.

Local broadcaster KOIN reported on Friday that the gunman, identified by law enforcement sources as Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, was a student at the college and enrolled in the writing class where the shooting took place. The television station did not state the source of the information in its Twitter post. Reuters could not immediately confirm the information.

Oregon gunman may have killed more if not for hero student

The gunman, who was killed by police, carried six guns, body armor and five magazines of bullets with him to campus, according to Celinez Nunez, assistant special agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Nunez said seven more firearms were found with a significant stockpile of ammunition at the apartment the suspect shared with his mother just outside Roseburg, a former timber town about 180 miles (290 km) south of Portland. All the guns were purchased legally, she said.

The gunman stormed into a classroom on campus, shot a professor in the head and then ordered cowering students to stand up and state their religion before shooting them one by one, according to survivors' accounts.

As the gunman moved toward an adjoining classroom, Chris Mintz, 30, a U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Iraq, tried to stop him, Jamie Skinner, the mother of Mintz's 6-year-old son told Reuters. The gunman opened fire, striking Mintz.

"When Chris hit the ground, he told him it was our son’s birthday yesterday. He took a couple more rounds after that," Skinner said, adding that the gunman then changed direction and entered a different room.

“The assailant was not able to make it into the classroom, because Chris stopped him,” she said, noting that Mintz was hospitalized with two broken legs and seven bullet wounds.

The Oregon shooting, the latest in a series of high-profile mass killings across the country, has led to fresh demands for stricter gun control in the United States, including an impassioned plea by President Barack Obama for political action, and statements by some Republican presidential candidates supporting the right of Americans to bear arms.

The latter is a position championed in the past by Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, who has refused since the shooting to comment on the gun control debate and has repeatedly declined to name the gunman during press conferences.

“Media and community members who publicize his name will only glorify his horrific actions," Hanlin said. "And eventually, this will only serve to inspire future shooters."

The sheriff on Friday identified the dead as Lawrence Levine, 67, the professor, and eight others who are believed to have been his students: Quinn Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Johnson, 33 or 34; Sarena Moore, 44; Treven Anspach, 20; and Rebecka Carnes, 18; and Lucero Alcaraz, 19.

Although authorities have disclosed scant information about the gunman, they appeared to be learning more about him and why he might have opened fire.

Numerous students, former students and victims' friends interviewed by Reuters have said they did not know of Harper-Mercer or that he was a student.

The shooter left behind a "multipage, hated-filled" statement in the classroom, according to a Twitter message from an NBC reporter, citing multiple law enforcement sources who were not identified. CNN, citing sources, said the statement showed animosity toward blacks.

Hanlin declined to comment when asked about the writings at a press conference.

Harper-Mercer was born in the United Kingdom and arrived in the United States as a young boy, his stepsister Carmen Nesnick told CBS Los Angeles.

Oregon gunman may have killed more if not for hero student | Reuters

His parents, Ian Mercer and Laurel Harper, divorced in Los Angeles in 2006 when he was a teenager, according to public records, and he continued to live with his mother.

Harper-Mercer, who identified himself on a blog post as "mixed race," enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for about a month in 2008 before being discharged for failing to meet administrative standards, military records showed.

He graduated from the Switzer Learning Center in Torrance, California, in 2009, according to a graduation listing in the Daily Breeze newspaper. Switzer is a private, nonprofit school geared for special education students with a range of issues from learning disabilities, health problems and autism or Asperger Syndrome, according to the school's website.

At some point, Harper-Mercer appears to have been sympathetic to the Irish Republican Army, a militant group that waged a violent campaign to drive the British from Northern Ireland. On an undated Myspace page, he posted photos of masked IRA gunmen carrying assault rifles.

Oregon gunman may have killed more if not for hero student | Reuters


Not counting Thursday's incident, 293 U.S. mass shootings have been reported this year, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker website, a crowd-sourced database kept by anti-gun activists that logs events in which four or more people are shot.

Hours after Thursday's shooting, a visibly frustrated Obama urged Americans to press their elected leaders to enact tougher firearms safety laws.

"Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here, at this podium, ends up being routine," he said. "We’ve become numb to this."

Gun control advocates say easy access to firearms is a major factor in the shooting epidemic, while the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun advocates say the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to bear arms.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Friday declined any comment on gun control or other ways of preventing future shootings.

“It is going to keep happening until we decide that we want them to stop," she said. "There is no single solution that will prevent every shooting but we must and we will do better.”

Both the governor and the sheriff said the gun control conversation would have wait for another day and instead it was time to focus on providing the support and condolences to help the community heal.

A month after the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Hanlin wrote a sharply worded letter to Vice President Joe Biden saying he would never enforce a federal law that violates the Constitution.

"Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings," Hanlin wrote in the letter, dated Jan. 15, 2013.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Doina Chiacu in Washington, Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Jane Ross in Roseburg, Shelby Sebens in Portland, and Katie Reilly and Angela Moon in New York; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty, Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)

Oregon gunman fascinated by shootings, described as shy and awkward

Reuters, Friday, October 2, 2015, 7:32pm EDT

By Courtney Sherwood and Phoenix Tso

WINCHESTER, Ore./TORRANCE, California --

Oregon gunman fascinated by shootings, described as shy and awkward | Reuters

The man killed by police on Thursday after he fatally shot nine people at a southern Oregon community college was a shy, awkward 26-year-old who was fascinated with shootings, according to people who knew him and his own social media postings.

Chris Harper-Mercer lived in Torrance, California, before moving to Winchester, Oregon, where he resided in an apartment with his mother Laurel Harper about a four-minute drive from Umpqua Community College, according to online records.

Nine people were wounded when he sprayed bullets into a classroom at the college in Roseburg, a timber town of about 20,000 people that adjoins Winchester.

Oregon gunman fascinated by shootings, described as shy and awkward | Reuters

On Friday, police outside the pink apartment building where he lived said his mother was not home. No one answered the phone number listed for the address, where investigators recovered two pistols, four rifles and one shotgun, in addition to six weapons the shooter took to the college.

A blog post using an email address linked to Harper-Mercer noted the publicity another shooter received after killing two television journalists in Virginia earlier this year.

"A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day," the post said. "Seems the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."

Harper-Mercer was in the Army for a month in 2008 before being discharged for failing to meet administrative standards, military records showed.

Eileen Sandlin, 40, a resident of the Los Angeles neighborhood of Tarzana where the gunman's father Ian Mercer lives, said her husband, Bob, used to tutor Harper-Mercer in science and math when he was of middle and high school age.

"He was a quiet kid," Sandlin said. "I got kind of a creepy feeling from him."

She said he seemed socially inept, but that there was no indication Harper-Mercer would do what he did, and that he was never fanatical about religion.

Family members and victims told CNN and other media the gunman lined up students and asked them if they were Christian. Those who answered "yes" were shot in the head.


A photo posted on a MySpace profile belonging to someone named Chris Harper-Mercer showed a young man with a shaved head, dark-rimmed glasses and a serious expression. He was holding a long-barreled gun.

Other images uploaded to the profile depicted balaclava-clad fighters toting assault rifles in the Irish Republican Army, a militant group that waged a violent campaign to drive the British from Northern Ireland.

Harper-Mercer was born in the United Kingdom and arrived in the United States as a young boy, his stepsister Carmen Nesnick told CBS Los Angeles.

"All he ever did was put everyone before himself," she said. "It doesn't sound right."

Los Angeles Superior Court records show Harper-Mercer's parents were married in 1989, the year he was born, separated in 1990, and that their divorce was finalized in 2006. Laurel Harper was awarded custody of her son.

The Torrance-based Daily Breeze said he graduated in 2009 from Torrance's Switzer Learning Center, a private non-profit school that says it serves students aged from third-grade to 22, most of whom have learning or emotional disorders. A Torrance police spokesman confirmed Harper-Mercer attended the center.

It was not clear when the gunman moved to Oregon.

Former neighbor Reina Webb, 19, said she often saw the gunman wearing military-style fatigues and acting oddly around the Torrance apartment complex where he and his mother lived.

"He was a loner ... He was a grown man, but acted like a little kid," said Webb. "He would have temper tantrums and fits if he didn't get his way."

Her friend, Jason Lee, 19, said Harper-Mercer would sometimes yell at children from his red bicycle.


In an Internet posting on the Spiritual Passions dating and social networking site, a user posted a picture that appears to be Harper-Mercer under the user name Ironcross45, a handle Harper-Mercer used as his email.

He described himself on the site as a 26-year-old, mixed-race "man looking for a woman." He said he was "not religious, but spiritual," a "teetotaler", and a conservative Republican living with his parents. Socially, he said, he was "shy at first" and "better in small groups." He described himself as "always dieting" and looking for "the yin to my yang."

The same email address linked to a Chris Harper-Mercer was also associated with the profile of user Lithium_Love on torrent sharing website KickAssTorrents.

The user wrote a blog post on the site about Vester Flanagan, the man who shot dead two reporters during a live broadcast in August before killing himself, calling the footage of the shooting "good".

The user's last torrent upload was on Tuesday and was entitled "This World Surviving Sandy Hook BBC Documentary 2015," according to the website.

(Additional reporting by Sue Horton and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif., Daina Beth Solomon in Torrance, Calif., Curtis Skinner in San Francisco, Bill Trott in Washington, D.C., and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Writing and additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Sue Horton, Paul Tait and Lisa Shumaker)



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