At least 9 killed in US town school shoot­ing

Ore­gon col­lege shooter was armed with mul­ti­ple firearms

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEFF BARNARD AND GOSIA WOZNIACKA

Armed with mul­ti­ple guns, a 26-year-old man walked into a morn­ing writ­ing class at a com­mu­nity col­lege in a ru­ral U.S. 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 seven oth­ers were wounded. One wit­ness said the at­tacker de­manded to know stu­dents’ re­li­gion be­fore shoot­ing them on Thurs­day, the fourth day of class at Um­pqua Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Ore­gon.

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 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 on 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 U.S. Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion about the shoot­ing.

Step- sis­ter Car­men Nes­nick told KCBS-TV the shoot­ing didn’t make sense.

“All he ever did was put ev­ery­one be­fore him­self, he wanted ev­ery­one to be happy,” she said.

‘I will not give him the credit’

The county sher­iff said at a news con­fer­ence he was not go­ing to say the shooter’s name be­cause that’s what he would have wanted.

“I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he prob­a­bly sought prior to this hor­rific and cow­ardly act,” said a vis­i­bly an­gry John Han­lin.

Rose­burg is in Dou­glas County, a po­lit­i­cally con­ser­va­tive re­gion west of the Cas­cade Range where peo­ple like to hunt and fish and pur­sue other out­door ac­tiv­i­ties.

But it’s no stranger to school gun vi­o­lence. A fresh­man at the lo­cal high school shot and wounded a fel­low stu­dent in 2006.

On Thurs­day, an­guished par­ents and other rel­a­tives rushed to sur­viv­ing stu­dents.

Jes­sica Chan­dler was des­per­ately seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about her 18-year-old daugh­ter, Re­becka Carnes.

“I don’t know where she is. I don’t know if she’s wounded,” Chan­dler said.

Carnes’ best friend told Chan­dler that her daugh­ter had been flown by he­li­copter to a hos­pi­tal.

Stu­dents de­scribed ut­ter fear and panic on hear­ing the shots.

Sarah Cobb, 17, was in a nextdoor class­room. She heard a shot. A teacher said they needed to get out, and the class ran out the door as she heard two more shots.

“I was freak­ing out. I didn’t know what to think, what to do,” she said.

Be­fore the Rose­burg shoot­ing, a post­ing on the mes­sage-board site 4chan in­cluded a photo of a crudely drawn frog used regularly in In­ter­net memes with a gun and warned other users not to go to school Thurs­day in the north­west. The mes­sages that fol­lowed spoke of mass shoot­ings, with some egging on and even of­fer­ing tips to the orig­i­nal poster. It was un­clear if the mes­sages were tied to the shoot­ing be­cause of the largely anony­mous na­ture of the site.

Han­lin said author­i­ties were still in­form­ing rel­a­tives of the dead.

“It’s been a ter­ri­ble day,” a grim- faced Han­lin said. “Cer­tainly this is a huge shock to our com­mu­nity.”

The sher­iff has been vo­cal in op­pos­ing gun-con­trol leg­is­la­tion. In 2013, Han­lin sent a let­ter to U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den af­ter a shoot­ing at an ele­men­tary school, declar­ing that he and his deputies would refuse to en­force new gun-con­trol re­stric­tions “of­fend­ing the con­sti­tu­tional rights of my cit­i­zens.”

Hun­dreds went to a can­dle­light vigil with many rais­ing can­dles as the hymn “Amaz­ing Grace” was played.

Sam Sher­man, a for­mer stu­dent, said the school helped broaden his op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“That’s all I could think about to­day. There’s 10, nine kids who won’t get those doors opened,” he said.

AP

Kris­ten Sterner, left, and Car­rissa Weld­ing, both stu­dents at Um­pqua Com­mu­nity Col­lege, em­brace each other dur­ing a can­dle­light vigil for those killed dur­ing a shoot­ing at the col­lege in Rose­burg, Ore­gon, Thurs­day, Oct. 1.

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