Accessibility links

USA

Oregon Gunman Committed Suicide, Officials Say

  • VOA News

Memorial flowers are seen outside Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Oct. 2, 2015.

Memorial flowers are seen outside Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Oct. 2, 2015.

Authorities in Oregon said Saturday that the gunman who killed nine people and wounded nine others at a community college committed suicide after a brief shootout with police.

The medical examiner came to that conclusion after examining the body of Christopher Harper Mercer, 26, who died following the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg on Thursday.

Officials also told journalists Saturday that they had found another gun owned by the shooter, bringing the number of weapons seized to 14.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said a “large and complex” investigation of the shootings was underway, with police interviewing hundreds of witnesses and neighbors and performing scientific tests on pieces of evidence.

Mercer left a hate-filled note at the scene of the shootings, which according to news reports said he “felt the world was against him.” He wrote that he was “in a bad way” and did not have a girlfriend, adding that he “had no life.”

Mercer also wrote in his multipage, typewritten message that he would be “welcomed in Hell and embraced by the devil.”

Hannah Miles, center, is reunited with her sister Hailey Miles, left, and father Gary Miles, right, after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2015.

Hannah Miles, center, is reunited with her sister Hailey Miles, left, and father Gary Miles, right, after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2015.

Legal purchase

Prior to the discovery of the 14th weapon, federal investigators said Mercer's guns had been purchased legally and had been traced to the same firearms dealer.

Celinez Nunez of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told reporters Friday that some of the weapons had been purchased by the shooter.

Hanlin told reporters at the same Friday news conference that teams of investigators were working with the victims' families individually to give them personal attention.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin addresses the media following a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin addresses the media following a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

Witnesses to the rampage said the shooter was targeting Christians. At least two witness accounts said the shooter asked his victims if they were Christian before he shot them.

Authorities also said the shooter wrote on a social media website about what he was planning to do.

In an unusual step, Hanlin said he personally would not give the shooter undue publicity by using his name.

"I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act," Hanlin said, while encouraging members of the media to avoid using, repeating or sensationalizing.

Obama's reaction

An angry President Barack Obama responded to the shooting Friday at a televised news conference when he encouraged Americans to become "single-issue voters” on gun control by electing officials who are committed to passing such legislation in Congress.

"The [National Rifle Association] doesn’t represent the majority of the American people, but they’re very effective. The American people are going to have to match their sense of urgency," Obama said.

He said the majority of Americans, including law-abiding gun owners, want tougher gun laws.

Hanlin called Thursday's incident a "huge shock" to the quiet rural county, where few residents are strangers.

About 3,000 students attend Umpqua Community College. Fifty-eight percent of them are female. Most of the students are 30 and older who go to the school part time to prepare to change careers.

Gun violence in the U.S.

Gun violence in the U.S.

XS
SM
MD
LG