Shooter killed him­self

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Chris Harper Mercer ended his life dur­ing a gun­fight with three of­fi­cers, the sher­iff says.

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.

Dur­ing the gun­fight, Mercer, 26, killed him­self, ac­cord­ing to the state med­i­cal ex­am­iner. The in­for­ma­tion was re­leased by Han­lin at Satur­day’s fi­nal news con­fer­ence on the mass 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 also con­firmed that Mercer was a stu­dent at the col­lege and was reg­is­tered for the class where the shoot­ing started.

The new de­tails 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.”

Mercer’s fa­ther, Ian Mercer, who lives in Los An­ge­les, said he first learned that some­thing was amiss when an FBI agent called him at work. Dur­ing their meet­ing in per­son, the agent told Mercer his son was the shooter.

“It was un­real, pretty much,” Mercer said. “Just dis­be­lief. You know, the FBI is not go­ing to tell you some­thing that is not true. It’s not likely any­way. So it was shock­ing, stun­ning, dis­be­lief— you can name a thou­sand dif­fer­ent emo­tions.”

In a lengthy in­ter­view with CNN on Satur­day, Mercer said he was “try­ing to un­der­stand how [the shoot­ing] can hap­pen. . . . I’m at a loss for words right now.”

Clearly shaken, Mercer won­dered how his son could have amassed his ar­se­nal. “How is it so easy to get all these guns?” he said. “How is it so easy? . . . It has to change. How can it not?”

Dou­glas County Fire Dis­trict Chief Greg Mar­lar said he was among the first to ar­rive at the school af­ter the shoot­ing. The first call had re­ported that an “ac­tive shooter” on the cam­pus had left a sin­gle fe­male vic­tim gravely wounded.

Within sec­onds of his ar­rival, Mar­lar said Satur­day, he found that a much more hor­ren­dous scene awaited. His fire­fight­ers and EMTs had trained at the school, but noth­ing pre­pared them for what he saw: Young women bleed­ing from bullet wounds walk­ing to­ward them, beg­ging for help.

“You’re al­ways think­ing it can hap­pen some­where else and not hap­pen here,” Mar­lar said. “But it did.”

In class­rooms, he said, gun vic­tims lit­tered the floor. Some were alive and bleed­ing, and more ap­peared dead or dy­ing, in­clud­ing the shooter, who was hand­cuffed on the floor. “It was a hor­rific scene,” Mar­lar said. “I didn’t have time to think. We had a job to do.”

Mar­lar scanned the room and left af­ter a few sec­onds. He stepped out to be­gin di­rect­ing more first re­spon­ders to the cam­pus. Ato­tal of 45 emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cians and fire­fight­ers and 10 am­bu­lances an­swered the call. “There is no doubt that the ex­cep­tional pa­tient care and pro­fi­cient use of life­sav­ing skills by first re­spon­ders saved lives that day,” Mar­lar said.

They trans­ported 10 wounded to area hos­pi­tals, but one per­son died on the way. For a short time the EMTs ad­min­is­tered to Mercer, plac­ing him on a gur­ney, Mar­lar said. But af­ter they re­al­ized he had died, they put him back on the floor.

Later that evening, Mar­lar learned that one of the stu­dents who died, Treven Anspach, was the son of one of his fire­fight­ers, Justin Anspach. Mar­lar’s youngest son and Treven Anspach knew each other in high school, which made Mar­lar’s du­ties more dif­fi­cult when, at 7 p.m. Thurs­day, he had to knock on the door of the Anspach fam­ily’s home.

“Noth­ing can com­pletely pre­pare you for the phys­i­cal and men­tal toll an in­ci­dent can have on any re­spon­der,” Mar­lar said. “I haven’t stopped think­ing about the many other fam­i­lies that have ex­pe­ri­enced an un­think­able loss.”

Don­ald Trump weighed in on the mas­sacre dur­ing a sub­ur­ban Nashville rally, sug­gest­ing Satur­day that hav­ing more guns in the class­room might have saved lives.

“If you had a teacher or some­body with guns in that room, you would’ve been a hell of a lot bet­ter off,” the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner told a rau­cous crowd in Franklin, Tenn.

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 there. By 11:14, Mercy Med­i­cal Cen­ter was told there were 10 fa­tal­i­ties and six crit­i­cally wounded pa­tients.

LEAH NASH FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Sher­iff JohnHan­lin says a quick re­sponse pre­vented the deaths of dozens of oth­ers in the class­room.

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