NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In an interview Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Washington’s inaction on gun control is a “disgrace” and that Congressional Democrats should threaten to shut down the federal government unless legislation is advanced.
Cuomo’s comments came a day after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people and wounding several others before being shot and killed by police.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims on Friday as Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18, of Myrtle Creek; Treven Taylor Anspach, 20, of Sutherlin; Sarena Dawn Moore, 44, of Myrtle Creek; Lawrence Levine, 67, of Glide; Jason Dale Johnson, 33, of Winston; Lucas Eibel of Roseburg, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59, of Roseburg; and Quinn Glen Cooper, 18, of Roseburg.
Cuomo said on NY1 that gun violence should be the top issue in the presidential race and that voters should hold their politicians accountable for their stance on the issue.
The governor said he would love to see members of Congress who support tougher gun laws threaten to hold up work on other issues until gun control is addressed.
Cuomo pushed a gun control measure through the New York Legislature in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
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.
On Thursday, armed with multiple guns, a 26-year-old man walked into a morning writing class at the college in the rural Oregon town and opened fire, hitting some students with multiple gunshots. One witness said the attacker demanded to know students’ religion before shooting them.
Students in a classroom next door heard several shots, one right after the next, and their teacher told them to leave.
“We began to run,” student Hannah Miles said. “A lot of my classmates were going every which way. We started to run to the center of campus. And I turned around, and I saw students pouring out of the building.”
The shooting occurred on the fourth day of classes at the campus located 180 miles south of Portland. The worst mass shooting in recent Oregon history was raising questions about security at the college with about 3,000 students.
“I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this,” former college president Joe Olson said.
The killer was identified as Chris Harper Mercer, according to a government official who was not authorized to speak publicly and provided the name on condition of anonymity. Mercer died after a shootout with police, who were not saying whether they knew of any motive.
Federal investigators recovered six weapons at the college and seven at Mercer’s nearby apartment. All of the weapons were purchased legally, seven of them by the shooter or his family members in the last three years, Celinez Nunez, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assistant special agent in charge, said at a news conference Friday.
Investigators also found a flak jacket next to a rifle at the school, which contained steel plates, she said.
Mercer is not believed to have a criminal history. Investigators believe he may have been a student at the college because a receipt found at the scene showed he purchased textbooks from the campus bookstore two days before the shooting, the ATF said.
He lived in an apartment complex in nearby Winchester. A neighbor, Bronte Harte, told The Associated Press that Mercer “seemed really unfriendly” and would “sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light.”
Harte said a woman she believed to be Mercer’s mother also lived upstairs and was “crying her eyes out” Thursday.
Social profiles linked to Mercer suggested he was fascinated by the IRA, frustrated by traditional organized religion and tracked other mass shootings.
There didn’t seem to be many recent connections on the social media sites linked to Mercer, with his MySpace page just showing two friends.
In addition to the MySpace page, Mercer appeared to have at least one online dating profile, a torrents streaming account and a blog.
On a torrents streaming site and blog that appeared to belong to Mercer, posts referenced multiple shootings and downloads included several horror films and a documentary on a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A blog post urged readers to watch the online footage of Vester Flanagan shooting two former colleagues on live TV in Virginia, while another lamented materialism as preventing spiritual development.
A MySpace page that appeared to belong to Mercer included several photos and graphics of the Irish Republican Army as well as a picture of Mercer holding a rifle.
Mercer previously lived in the Los Angeles-area suburb of Torrance with his mother. Neighbors there recalled him as uncommunicative.
His father, Ian Mercer, said late Thursday that it’s been a “devastating day” for him and his family, and he has been talking to police and the FBI about the shooting. He spoke to KABC-TV and several other media outlets gathered outside his house in Tarzana, California.
Step-sister Carmen Nesnick said the shooting didn’t make sense.
“All he ever did was put everyone before himself, he wanted everyone to be happy,” she told KCBS-TV.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Thursday that he was not going to say the shooter’s name because that’s what he would have wanted.
“I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act,” said a visibly angry Hanlin.
The sheriff has been vocal in opposing state and federal gun-control legislation. In 2013, Hanlin sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after the Sandy Hook shooting, declaring that he and his deputies would refuse to enforce new gun-control restrictions “offending the constitutional rights of my citizens.”
Before the Roseburg shooting, a posting on the message-board site 4chan included a photo of a crudely drawn frog used regularly in Internet memes with a gun and warned other users not to go to school Thursday in the Northwest.
The messages that followed spoke of mass shootings, with some egging on and even offering tips to the original poster. It was unclear if the messages were tied to the shooting because of the largely anonymous nature of the site.
Investigators went door to door in the neighborhoods near the college and the shooter’s apartment seeking clues, Hanlin said Friday.
Hundreds went to a candlelight vigil Thursday night, with many raising candles as the hymn “Amazing Grace” was played.
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