Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, has been identified by law-enforcement officials as the gunman who shot and killed nine and injured seven at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, according to the New York Times.
“He appears to be an angry young man who was very filled with hate,” one law-enforcement official said.
Officials said Mercer lived in the area but was not a student at the college.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said the gunman was killed during a confrontation with officers shortly after they arrived at Umpqua Community College. The first 9-1-1 calls came in at 10:38 a.m. PST.
An online dating profile at SpiritualPassions, linked to Harper-Mercer’s email address, described him as living with his parents and searching for the “yin to my yang.” It identifies his political views as “conservative, republican” and his religious views as “not religious, not religious, but spiritual.” His desired match would have “pagan, wiccan, not religious, but spiritual” views, according to the profile.
On the dating site he affiliated with several interest groups, including “Magick and Occult.”
Kortney Moore, 18, from Rogue River, Oregon, heard a shot come through a window while in her writing class, the News Review Today reported.
Moore, who witnessed her teacher’s execution, said the shooter asked people to stand up and state their religion before firing his weapon.
Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded in the attack, told CNN Mercer specifically targeted Christians.
“[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” Boylen, the New York Post reported.
Despite Harper-Mercer’s self identification as a conservative and Republican, his Myspace page reflected an interest in the Irish Republican Army, better known for its socialist politics.
Harper-Mercer’s email address is also linked to another online identity used to post on torrent upload websites, reported Daily Beast. In a blog entry linked to the identity, Harper-Mercer wrote of his admiration for Vester Lee Flanagan, the former Virginia TV news reporter who gunned down two of his colleagues on live television in August.
People “like him have nothing left to live for,” Harper-Mercer wrote. “On an interesting note, I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. … A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
The school, established in 1964 roughly 180 miles south of Portland, has 3,300 full-time students and 16,000 part-time students, NBC News reported. It has also been designated a gun-free zone.
“Possession, use, or threatened use of firearms (including but not limited to BB guns, air guns, water pistols, and paint guns) ammunition, explosives, dangerous chemicals, or any other objects as weapons on college property, except as expressly authorized by law or college regulations, is prohibited,” CBS Seattle reported.
Former UCC president Joe Olson, who retired in June, told KATU there is only one unarmed security officer on duty.
“I turned around. I heard active shooter and I didn’t need to be told twice,” student Larry Howell told NBC News. “Everybody is reaching out to one another and checking on everyone, we don’t know which one of our colleagues are down. We heard on the scanners that two of them didn’t make it on their way to the hospital.”
Jason Sickles, a reporter for Yahoo News who was at the school during the shooting, discussed his experience on Twitter. A witness told him the gunman possessed four weapons.
“It’s extremely concerning and sad,” said Endi Hartigan, spokeswoman for the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
Students, faculty, and staff were transferred to the Douglas County Fairgrounds located nearby, the sheriff’s office said.
Investigators trying to discern the suspect’s motive are examining ominous social media postings made the night before the massacre. A source close to the investigation told Q-13 Fox on Thursday it appears the shooter may have telegraphed his intentions online prior to acting.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tweeted her condolences: “My thoughts are with the families and victims of today’s tragedy.”
Brown, a Democrat, declared: “We have an obligation to protect Oregonians from gun violence. If we want to keep our kids, schools and communities safe, we must make it harder for dangerous people to get guns,” CNN reported.
President Obama responded to the shooting Thursday evening from the White House by making the case for stricter gun control laws.
“Right now I can imagine the press releases be cranked out. We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun-safety laws. Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country. They know this is not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans say we should be changing these laws.”
Obama said he would continue to remind Americans they are “collectively” responsible for mass shootings.
“This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. Each time this happens I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens I’m going to say that we can actually do something about it but we’re going to have to change our laws and this is not something I can do by myself,” Obama said.