American college shooter had arsenal of weapons
The 26-year-old behind America’s latest mass shooting at a college in rural Oregon appears to have been a gun enthusiast who hoarded an arsenal of weapons and was obsessed with religion.
Though authorities have yet to formally name him, the gunman behind the murder of nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg has been widely identified as Chris Harper Mercer.
As a portrait of the shooter — who died in the carnage — began emerging on Friday, officials said they had recovered 13 weapons belonging to him, including six at the school.
Celinez Nunez, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told a press conference that a flak jacket with steel plates and five magazines were also found laying next to a rifle at the school.
Authorities said they were still trying to determine what prompted the killings. Several reports said Mercer, who apparently had no ties to the college, may have been seeking notoriety.
“He appears to be an angry young man who was very filled with hate,” the New York Times quoted an unnamed law enforcement official as saying.
Another official said Mercer, who lived with his mother, was obsessed with guns and religion and had leanings toward white supremacy.
Witnesses said he demanded to know his victims’ religion before gunning them down.
“They would stand up and he said ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’” Stacy Boylan told CNN, relaying his daughter Ana’s account. She survived by playing dead.
CNN quoted investigators as saying that during the shooting rampage, Mercer handed hatefilled writings to a survivor that spoke of his frustration at not having a girlfriend and at being a virgin. He also reportedly left behind a box.
Derrick McClendon, a former neighbor of Mercer when he lived in California, said the young man was very withdrawn and ill at ease.
“I would say, ‘Hey, man, you all right?’” McClendon told the New York Times. “He would say ‘hi,’ but that’s it. He was really shy.”
Mercer’s neighbors in Oregon described him as a withdrawn, anxious man who wore the same outfit every day — combat boots, green army pants and a white T-shirt.
“He was not a friendly type of guy,” said Bronte Hart.
“He did not want anything to do with anyone.”
The rampage Thursday in the close- knit rural community prompted an impassioned new plea for gun control by President Barack Obama who said Americans had become “numb” to the horror of mass shootings.
Obama on Friday warned that unless gun safety measures are adopted, such killings would go on.
“Let’s not forget this is happening every single day in forgotten neighborhoods around the country,” he told reporters. “Every single day, kids are just running for their lives trying to get to school.”
In answer to those who argue that mental illness lies at the root of America’s mass shooting epidemic, Obama said the key was to limit access to guns for the tiny minority of mentally ill people who turn violent.
“The only thing we can do is make sure that they can’t have an entire arsenal when something snaps in them,” he said.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Kimoon also added his voice to calls for action to curb gun violence saying it was taking an “appalling toll” on American society.
The photos of three of the victims of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College are displayed at a news conference in Roseburg, Oregon, Friday, Oct. 2. In the photos, from left, are Quinn Cooper, 18, Lucas Eibel, 18 and Jason Johnson, 33. They were among those killed when Chris Harper Mercer walked into a class at the community college, Thursday, Oct. 1, and opened fire. Also shown are Portland Police Sgt. Peter Simpson, left, and Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.