By Joseph Hoyt, Sarah Kaplan and Eli Saslow,
ROSEBURG, Ore. — The gunman who cut a deadly path through a college campus appeared armed for an extended siege, according to investigators who are probing more deeply into suspicions the shooter may have been driven by religious rage and a fascination with the twisted notoriety of high-profile killers.
What is known so far about the attacker — identified by a U.S. law enforcement official as Chris Harper Mercer — appears mostly as loose strands that suggested an interest in firearms and the infamy gained by mass shooters.
Witnesses also said he seemed to seek specific revenge against Christians, and police examined Web posts that hinted of wider antipathy toward organized faith.
An agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said at a news conference Friday that investigators had recovered 13 weapons, including six at the school. Also recovered there was a flak jacket with steel plates and five magazines of ammunition. The rest of the weapons, and more ammunition, were found at Mercer’s home. The weapons were acquired legally, she said.
But authorities still struggled to build a clearer picture of what drove the California-raised Mercer, 26, to stalk rural Umpqua Community College and methodically pick off students and professors Thursday on the fourth day of the fall semester.
When it was over, nine people were dead, plus Mercer, and the college joined the mournful roster of America’s mass shooting sites — and the backdrop for the latest debate about gun control.
[Mercer left behind a portrait of a lonely youth with a grudge]
Thursday night, as police picked through Mercer’s apartment near campus, hundreds of people joined a candlelight vigil. Some sang along to “Amazing Grace” — the same hymn President Obama offered in June when Charleston was the focus of the nation’s grief and questions over another rampage.
This time, Obama said collective grief was “not enough” and made an emotional appeal for a national groundswell toward stricter gun laws.
Witnesses to the Oregon bloodshed described Mercer as questioning people at gunpoint about their religious affiliations, and appearing to single out Christians for killing.
“He said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’ ” said Stacy Boylan, recounting …Read More