Probe in college slayings peers into Web rants and possible religious rage – Washington Post
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, a report said Friday, as investigators probed 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.
But authorities still struggled to build a clearer picture of what drove the California-raised Mercer to stalk rural Umpqua Community College and methodically pick off students and professors Thursday on the fourth day of the fall semester.
He arrived heavily armed and outfitted: carrying three pistols, an assault-style rife, five magazines of extra ammo and wearing body armor, the Associated Press reported, citing information from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The arsenal included a 9mm Glock and .556-caliber Del-Ton carbine rifle, the AP said.
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.
[274 days; 294 gun deaths or injuries]
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’ …Read More