Ten dead as gunman opens fire at a Oregon community college
A gunman opened fire at a community college in southern Oregon on Thursday killing ten people and wounding seven others before police shot him to death, authorities said, in the latest mass killing to rock an American campus.
Governor Kate Brown said the suspect was a 20-year-old man who was slain in an exchange of gunfire with police in Snyder Hall at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg following the rampage shortly after 10:30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT).
The gunman was identified by authorities as Chris Harper Mercer, who said they were still investigating his motives. CNN reported that three handguns and a “long gun” belonging to him were recovered from the scene.
The massacre is the latest in a series of mass shootings at U.S. college campuses, movie theaters, military bases and churches in recent years and marked the deadliest since a shooting rampage in June at a South Carolina church that killed nine.
The killings have fueled demands for more gun control in the United States, where ownership of firearms is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and better care for the mentally ill.
President Barack Obama, speaking just hours after the rampage, said the mass killing should move Americans to demand greater gun controls from elected officials.
“Somehow this has become routine,” a visibly angry Obama said. “The reporting is routine. My response here, at this podium, ends up being routine. We’ve become numb to this.”
Kortney Moore, 18, told the local News Review newspaper that she was in her writing class in Snyder Hall when a gunshot came through the window and struck her teacher in the head.
Moore said the gunman told people to get on the ground, then asked them to stand up and state their religion before he started shooting.
Freshman Kenny Ungerman told NBC that said he saw the shooter, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a handgun as he went into the building, followed by gunshots and screams. Student Cassandra Welding told CNN that she heard 35 to 40 shots.
Student Brady Winder, in a posting on Facebook, said he was in a classroom next door to the room where the shooting began and ran, along with his classmates, when they heard the gunfire.
“I ran to the edge of the campus, down a hill and waited. From talking with a student in the classroom where it happen, almost every person in the room was shot by a man with four guns,” Winder, 23, wrote.
“I’m still shaken up … I can’t wrap my mind around this. Please just pray for the families and parents of these students,” he posted.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said three of the shooting victims were listed in critical condition on Thursday evening.
Peace Health Sacred Heart Medical Center emergency room doctor Hans Notenboom told reporters three women between the ages of 18 and 34 were flown to the hospital in Riverbend by helicopter, and two were moved directly into operating room.
Survivors were transported to a local fairgrounds and some family members were left waiting for hours to see if their loved ones would be among them.
The college, which began its fall term this week and serves more than 13,000 students, 3,000 of them full-time, said it would be closed until Monday. A candlelight vigil was scheduled for nightfall.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on their way to Roseburg.
In 2012, seven students at the small Christian college Oikos University in Oakland, California, were shot dead by a former student, marking the deadliest outburst of violence at a U.S. college since April 2007, when a student at Virginia Tech University killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before taking his own life.