Multiple sources identify gunman at Oregon community college as Chris Harper Mercer

By Dana Ford

CNN

(CNN) -- Ten people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Oregon's Umpqua Community College on Thursday, forcing the nation to face yet another mass shooting.

Seven other people were injured, and the shooter is dead, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told reporters. Earlier estimates had put the number of people hurt much higher.

Multiple law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. Investigators have interviewed members of his family and friends, they said.

Cassandra Welding is a student at the Roseburg campus and was in class when the shooting started.

"I heard a popping noise, almost like a balloon popping," she told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I knew something wasn't right and so I get down."

She said all of the students in her classroom dropped to the ground. They huddled together behind backpacks and chairs, underneath tables.

"We locked the doors, turned off the lights, and we were all pretty much in panic mode," Welding said.

"We called 911 and called our parents, our loved ones ... We didn't know what was going to happen, if those were our last words or not."

The shooting

The shooting appears to have started in one building before the gunman moved to the school's science building, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN. Those killed and wounded were found in at least two classrooms.

"We arrived to find multiple patients in multiple classrooms. Law enforcement was on scene and had the shooter neutralized," said Douglas County Fire Marshal Ray Shoufler.

He told CNN that two patients died while being transported to a hospital.

Mercy Medical Center posted on Facebook that it had received 10 patients. The extent of their injuries was not known.

Three female victims were at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

It wasn't immediately clear why the hospitals' numbers conflicted with the figure provided by Sheriff Hanlin.

A law enforcement official told CNN three pistols and one rifle believed to have belonged to the suspect were recovered at the scene.

ATF agents were also on scene and canine teams were en route to search for explosives, fire arms casings and ammunition, a spokesman said. FBI agents were en route.

The community

Roseburg is a city of about 22,000 people about 70 miles south of Eugene, Oregon, and some 180 miles south of Portland.

The school itself is up on a hill outside the city center, according to Rick Francona, a CNN military analyst who lives nearby. Francona said that logging is a big industry in the region, which is fairly rural but easily accessible from Interstate 5.

"This is so out of character for this whole area," he said.

News of the shooting quickly reached Washington, with the state's senior senator, Ron Wyden, visibly shaken and Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeting that he was praying for the victims and their families.

U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation and will continue to receive updates throughout the day.

He pushed for a change in gun laws when he spoke to reporters about the shooting Thursday.

"Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this," he said.

The President continued: "Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It's not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America -- next week, or a couple months from now."

The school

A picturesque campus in the North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College prides itself on a "a peaceful, safe atmosphere, and year-round recreational activities," according to its website.

It's not a traditional institution of higher learning, as the average age of its 13,600 students was 38 during the 2013-2014 school year. Only 740 of those were full time, 2,437 were part time and more than 10,000 fell under the umbrella of "community education."

It first began teaching classes out of rented facilities in 1961. Elton and Ruth Jackson donated 98.5 acres to house the campus in 1965.

The school will be closed until Monday as a result of the shooting.

The interim leader of Umpqua Community College called Thursday "the saddest day in the history of the college."

Are you there? Share your images if you can safely.

CNN's Eliott McLaughlin, Deborah Feyerick, Steve Almasy, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Eugene Scott, Shimon Prokupecz, Sheena Jones and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

Trademark and Copyright 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.



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66 comments

    • bob (@Angryfan3)

      Wrong. It’s more likely we would just hear about all the accidental gun discharges from your own guns of the uneducated, untrained gun owners. Fact: there are by far more accidental gun shootings from the guns of you “good guys” than these mass shootings. More guns make us safer? YEAH RIGHT!!!

      • Cornelius

        Cite your sources, Bob. Calling that a fact is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard about this so far. In fact, when concealed carry citizens are involved in taking out shooters or other violent criminals they have generally take fewer shots than the police and have every shot accounted for. Just because YOU don’t know how to handle a gun doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t know how. The fact is there are hundreds of teachers in the state of Utah who carry guns to school every day. I can think of only one accidental discharge reported in the last several years, and the only one injured was the gun owner from toilet shards hitting her leg.

      • Green Eyed Jinn

        Well…I see one clear fact in this report: somebody did a lot of shooting in an area designated as a “gun free zone.” So if you would like to derive and reasonable correlation, I would say that posted “gun free zones” are meaningless.

      • anotherbob

        Bob is right, in theory the “everyone with a gun makes things safer” argument is sound, but in real life it causes more issues than it solves. There are a LOT of stupid people out there, a lot of stupid people that have no business even being around firearms period because they are all irresponsible. Just imagine what would happen when a gunman fires only a single shot in a place like a school and then all the other people around pull out their guns? What you get is a huge cluster F of confusion and chances of somebody getting mis-identified as the shooter go through the roof. Do you idiots think the shooter goes in dressed in a black trenchcoat or otherwise has a sign on his back saying he’s the shooter? No they do not, they look like everybody else.

      • DDD

        Compare accidental deaths from firearms to accidental automobile deaths Bob and cite your sources. Response time Bob is defined as the time when your place your call to 911 for help and the police arrive to put up crime scene tape.

    • Paul

      Hmm you can bring a gun to your car leave it in your car ,Metal detectors work the best.We don’t live in paradice bad stuff will happen.

  • Cornelius

    There’s a surprise. Another “gun free zone” where the shooter didn’t obey the law. Condolences to all the victims.

  • Jimmy Conway

    I’m so sick of this sh*t. C’mon people, start carrying a pistol and be ready. And if you get a hold of one of these guys torture them to death. I know I will.

    • Paul

      To each his own, a pistol is like another person you have pay attention to it ,handle it with care and safety to it at all times .When the time comes to use it your superior to the attacker .Aces up,black jack

    • Cornelius

      You have never been to a gun show, have you? There are private sales between citizens, but every seller with an FFL still has to fill out the appropriate forms and do a background check because their guns are all registered on their business books. Any gun giveaways by these businesses (I don’t know of any private seller with enough money or guns to just be giving a gun away for fun) are also subject to the same laws. Normally I agree with your comments, but it seems you either haven’t thought this one out, or someone else hijacked your user name.

    • bob

      So far? Nothing. Show me evidence that the winner of one of those raffles has EVER murdered someone with the weapon he won.

      Just one.

      They have to pass the same background check as anyone else.

    • DDD

      I never hear you blubbering when a drunk driver kills somebody, and it happens ever day. It wouldn’t happen if only we’d outlaw cars ….. and maybe trucks.

  • Jon

    Turning this into a gun control issue is entirely missing the point. You should be sad people died, and instead, you care more about your guns than anything else. Shame on all of you.

    • person

      No, that’s exactly the point !!! We are sad that people died. What can be done to prevent this from hapening again, Jon? Please answer the question with a reasonable answer.

      • DivideByZero

        Gun control doesn’t solve the problem either, it only addresses the symptom. There are systemic problems in our society that need a lot of attention. But sadly selfishness, greed, ignorance, corruption and power consumes the priorities.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        @DIVIDEBYZERO
        Gun control doesn’t address anything except the liberal’s false sense of security.

    • bob

      Whether I’m sad or not has absolutely ZERO effect on the world.

      Whether or not I’m ARMED might have an effect.

      I choose to be armed.

    • ANOTHERBOB

      When a drunk driver kills an innocent motorist, and it happens every day Jon, do we blame to car company? Liberals like Jon think with their emotions instead of their brain.

      • DivideByZero

        Hear hear Bob! Because you’re obviously part of the solution with your hyperbole and ad hominem attacks.
        a/0

      • ANOTHERBOB

        @DIVIDEBYZERO
        When some fool takes a human life liberals blame to the tool he uses while more intelligent people blame the killer. Which one are you?

      • DivideByZero

        Don’t care. Nothing you said here is useful. Personal attacks only reflect upon yourself and self insecurities.
        You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Which one will you be?

  • bob

    Liberal state, strict gun control, gun-free zone……what are the odds?

    Predators ALWAYS prey on the weak and relatively defenseless. Always. There has never been such an incident at a gun show, and never will. (If there was, it wouldn’t go on for very long.)

    Why is this not obvious?

    He will be on psychoactive prescription meds, too. Guaranteed.

    • O. Kachobey

      Actually violent crime has been going down as gun purchases have gone up. Violent crime is only rising in democratically controlled cities with “gun control”. Weird huh?

    • Paul

      Good people want to protect themselves, too much criminals ,corruption in the courts criminal rights .Hmm good people are not to blame.

  • Hyrum_Justice

    Too bad the shooter wasn’t killed outright. Would have saved the taxpaying public a lot of money and brought justice to the victims. Now they will claim they had a bad hair day and be found to crazy to account for their actions over the course of 20 years draining every penny their appointed attorney can dream of from their remaining victims (all taxpayers).

  • O. Kachobey

    This story mysteriously ceases to be interesting to the media when the killer turns out to be a non-White or a homosexual or both – like that reporter that just killed his former co-workers.

    • al

      What are the chances of this being a non white person. Less than a 5% chance. So, it turns out that it will remain uninteresting for us black folks, since we see it happening in the “white community” all the time. Mass shootings and child crimes seems to be white americas type of crimes. We blacks tend to stick to killing ourselves and robbing.

    • bob

      Not to mention the single, unarmed security guard. Between the signs and Barney Fife the place should be resisted a nuclear strike.

      According to liberals.

  • Paul

    It all started in Texas at the tower .I seen the bullets back in the 1980s at the top of the tower at Texas university ,hasn’t stop .

  • Carol

    Those who where encouraging him and telling him how he should do it should be charged for those murders and attempted murders. They did nothing to stop it or warn the police but told him how he should do it. So really, they helped him plan it.
    So sad for the victims and their families!

  • lapd22040

    Interesting article from the European Times: “The Federal Security Services (FSB) is reporting today that an American black-Islamist terror suspect, who yesterday committed an act of mass murder in the State of Oregon (United States), had been included on a list of 87,000 “known/suspected” Islamic terrorists that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) refused last month to accept from the Federation due to its not being “politically viable in the present atmosphere”.
    “According to this report, the black-Islamist terrorist who committed this act of terror, Chris Harper Mercer, had previously been identified by electronic intelligence specialists within the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) as being an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) adherent after he had attempted to gain passage to Syria via Turkey during the first week of September, 2015.
    “By the Obama regime refusing to accept this terror list from the Federation, this report continues, Mercer was able to accomplish his terror act when yesterday he killed 9 people and wounded 7 others at the Umpqua Community College prior to his being shot and killed by local US police forces.”

  • JW

    If someone that is that deranged, he isn’t going to obey any signs saying this is a “gun free zone” I’m so sorry for what has happened and the loss of those innocent people just going to school and the grieving families. Maybe placing armed military guards outside schools and places that are easy targets as a show of force would help, bulletproof glass, locking mechanisms on doors so people can’t just walk right in and do what they want…..some sort of solution.

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