ROSEBURG, Ore. (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — A gunman opened fire at an Oregon community college Thursday, killing nine people and wounding at least seven others, authorities said.
The gunman was also later shot and killed.
The shooting happened at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, about 175 miles south of Portland.
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Douglas County, Oregon Sheriff John Hanlin said seven additional people were wounded, three critically.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said earlier Thursday that at least 13 people had died in the shooting and another 20 were wounded, but in a news conference Thursday night Hanlin said the number of fatalities stood at 10. The sheriff acknowledged that there had been conflicting reports but that is the most accurate number they have at this time.
Law enforcement sources tell CBS News four guns — a combination of pistols and a rifle — were found at the scene of the shooting.
The gunman was identified as Chris Harper Mercer, 26, law enforcement sources confirmed to CBS News.
Posts on an online blog that appears to belong to Mercer reference multiple shootings, including one in Virginia in August that left a television news reporter and cameraman dead. The last upload on the blog was Wednesday. when a documentary about the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was posted.
In one post on the blog about Vester Flanagan, the man who killed the reporter and cameraman in Virginia, Mercer apparently wrote, “I have noticed that so many people like [Flanagan] are 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 like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
An online dating profile that appears to belong to Mercer lists his hobbies and interests as “Internet, killing zombies, movies, music, reading.” Under ethnicity, it says “mixed race” and his relationship status says “single — never married.”
The profile also says he is currently in college and lives with his parents, is a Republican and not religious. It also says he doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs.
One of the groups on the site that he belongs to is called “Doesn’t Like Organized Religion.”
Hanlin said at least two officers acted heroically in the shootout, but it was not clear if the gunman was killed by authorities or whether he took his own life.
At a news conference late Thursday night, a visibly angry Hanlin said he would not name the shooter.
“I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act,” he said.
Mercer had been living at an apartment complex in nearby Winchester. Yellow police tape surrounded the building Thursday night.
A neighbor, Bronte Hart, said Mercer would “sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light.”
Hart said a woman she believed to be Mercer’s mother also lived upstairs and was “crying her eyes out” Thursday.
There have been at least 142 school shootings in America since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, according to Everytown.org.
That is an average of nearly one per week.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered flags at public institutions throughout the state lowered to half-staff.
“We are holding the community of Douglas County in our hearts today,” Brown said in a brief statement.
Following the Oregon shooting, the entire college campus went into lockdown. Police searched backpacks, and K-9s swarmed the grounds.
When the gunman encountered police who had rushed to the scene, he started shooting. Police fired back, and the shooter died in the gun battle.
Eighteen-year-old Kortney Moore of Rogue River tells the Roseburg News-Review newspaper that she was in a writing class when a shot came through a window.
She says the gunman entered her classroom, told people to get on the ground and then asked people to stand up and state their religion before opening fire.
Krys Denino, a mother of two and first-year nursing student at the college, was on campus when the shooting started.
She told CBSN by phone that she initially thought what she heard was from a construction project and didn’t realize the sounds were gunshots until she saw a young woman running toward her. She heard another gunshot and then started running to her car.
And one mother late Thursday still had not talked to her daughter, who attends the college.
“I don’t know where she’s at,” said Jessica Chandler. “I don’t know if she’s on the buses, I don’t know if she’s wounded somewhere, I have no idea.”
There were no armed security guards on the campus when the shooting began, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
More than 100 detectives and investigators were on the scene Thursday afternoon.
According to Hanlin, the Oregon State Police, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and multiple local law enforcement agencies are assisting in the investigation.
Students and faculty members were bused to the Douglas County Fairgrounds, the sheriff’s office said.
The school has about 3,000 students. Its website was down Thursday.
Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg has at least patients. Their conditions were not available.
PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield said it received three female patients between the ages of 18 and 34 via helicopter. Dr. Hans Notenboom of the emergency department said two of the patients went directly into the operating room.
Former Umpqua Community College (UCC) President Joe Olson, who retired in June after four years, said the school had no formal security staff, just one officer on a shift.
One of the biggest debates on campus last year was whether to post armed security officers on campus to respond to a shooting.
“I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this,” he said.
Interim UCC President Rita Cavin said at a news conference that the school has a no guns on campus policy.
Hours after the attack, a visibly angry President Barack Obama spoke to reporters, saing the U.S. is becoming numb to mass shootings and that their perpetrators have “sickness” in their minds.
“It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun,” Mr. Obama said. “We collectively are answerable to these families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also issued a statement on the shooting, calling for better mental health care and gun restrictions.
“Today’s tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College is yet another example of lives senselessly lost to the epidemic of gun violence in this country. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those lost or wounded,” the mayor said. “We must honor the memories of all those lost by rededicating ourselves to the fight for more access to mental health care and laws that prevent guns from getting in the wrong hands.”
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed de Blasio’s remarks, and complained that Washington has not taken action on gun violence.
“The prevalence of gun violence in this country is a sickness that continues to claim innocent lives and threaten our communities seemingly at random on a daily basis. We have seen too many of these pointless, brutal tragedies, and the sad truth is that, in spite of it all, Washington has done nothing,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“At what point will Congress wake up and pass real, sensible gun control that keeps guns out of the hands of criminals and people who are dangerously mentally ill?” Cuomo continued. “How many more families will have to endure this kind of senseless, avoidable tragedy while our elected officials in Washington continue to sit on their hands?”
The rural town of Roseburg lies west of the Cascade Mountains in an area where the timber industry has struggled. In recent years, officials have tried to promote the region as a tourist destination for vineyards and outdoor activities.
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