Gunman kills at least 9 at Oregon campus before dying in shootout – Chicago Tribune
Armed with multiple guns, a 26-year-old man walked into a morning writing class at the community college in this rural Oregon town and opened fire, hitting some students with multiple gunshots. A witness said a teacher was struck in the head.
At least nine people were killed by the gunman and one witness said the attacker demanded to know students’ religion before shooting them on Thursday, the fourth day of class at Umpqua Community College.
Students in a classroom next door heard several shots, one right after the next, and their teacher told them to leave. Student Hannah Miles said: “We began to run. A lot of my classmates were going every which way. We started to run to center of campus. And I turned around, and I saw students pouring out of the building.”
The worst mass shooting in recent Oregon history was raising questions about security at the Umpqua Community College.
“I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this,” said the college’s former president, Joe Olson.
The killer was identified as Chris Harper Mercer, according to a government official who was not authorized to speak publicly and provided the name on condition of anonymity. The gunman died following a shootout with police.
Police were not saying whether they knew of any motive.
The shooting on the campus in this former timber town 180 miles south of Portland shattered the first week of classes at the community college with about 3,000 students.
Mercer lived in a nearby apartment complex, which was cordoned off with yellow tape Thursday night.
A neighbor, Bronte Harte, told The Associated Press that Mercer “seemed really unfriendly” and would “sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light.”
Harte said a woman she believed to be Mercer’s mother also lived upstairs and was “crying her eyes out” Thursday.
In the Los Angeles-area suburb of Torrance where Mercer lived for a short time several years ago, neighbors recalled him as uncommunicative.
Ian Mercer, Chris Harper Mercer’s father, spoke to KABC-TV and several other media outlets gathered outside his house in Tarzana, California, late Thursday night.
He said it’s been a “devastating day” for him and his family and he has been talking to police and the FBI about the shooting.
Step-sister Carmen Nesnick told KCBS-TV the shooting didn’t make sense.
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