By T. Rees Shapiro, Caitlin Dewey and Lenny Bernstein,
ROSEBURG, Ore. — Three police officers arrived at the scene of Thursday’s massacre at Umpqua Community College within six minutes of the first emergency call, exchanged gunfire with shooter Chris Harper Mercer and prevented him from “killing dozens of other people who were in that classroom and in the immediate vicinity,” Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Saturday.
Sometime during the gunfight, Mercer, 26, killed himself, according to the Oregon State Medical Examiner. The information was released by Hanlin at Saturday’s final news conference on the shooting, which took the lives of 10 people, including Mercer, and injured nine others.
Hanlin also revealed that authorities had found another handgun belonging to Mercer, bringing his stockpile to 14. Authorities previously said he brought six of those weapons — five handguns and a rifle — to the school, along with a steel-paneled flak jacket and five extra magazines of ammunition.
Hanlin thanked the officers who halted the shooter and Chris Mintz, an Army veteran who was wounded seven times as he charged Mercer, who was blasting his way through a classroom door.
And Hanlin spoke directly to families of Mercer’s victims, telling them that “we consider your loved ones to be our heroes. They will never be forgotten.”
The new details of the police response were provided as police posted a statement from Mercer’s family that was released by a spokesman.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific events that unfolded on Thursday, October 1,” the one-paragraph statement reads. “Our thoughts, our hearts and our prayers go out to all of the families of those who died and were injured.”
A timeline of events distributed at Saturday’s news conference showed that the first 911 call from the college came in to the Douglas County Emergency Communications center at 10:38 a.m. Roseburg police officers were dispatched to the school, about five miles from their location.
Two of them and a state trooper arrived at 10:44. At 10:46, one officer reported an exchange of gunfire with Mercer. The 10:48 entry says simply “Suspect down.”
Hanlin said the state medical examiner had determined that the cause of death was suicide.
At 10:50, the dispatcher requested that all local ambulances head to the school as authorities began to understand the magnitude of the carnage …Read More