Tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College

By Bart Brewer, Reporter

On Oct. 1, a tragic shooting occurred at  Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon. Ten people including the shooter were killed and seven others were wounded, making this the worst mass shooting in the state’s history. This adds to a growing list of school shootings that has been increasing in size over the years.

The shooter in this incident has been identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer. Harper-Mercer, armed with five handguns and one long gun entered one of the campus buildings at 10:38 a.m. and proceeded to start shooting people in one of the classrooms before moving to the school’s science building.

Witnesses say that Harper-Mercer, who was enrolled in the English class where the shootings took place, asked victims to stand up and state their religion before he shot them. John Hanlin, the sheriff of Douglas County, says it’s still too early to tell if this is a hate crime.

Harper-Mercer committed suicide after he exchanged gunfire with two detectives who arrived first on the scene, police said.

After the shooting, many questions were raised. For example, how was Harper-Mercer able to get so many weapons? Police discovered a total of 14 firearms, all purchased legally, in the apartment he shared with his mother, a nurse. As it stands now, you don’t need a permit to buy a gun in Oregon. However Oregon has been said to be much better than other states with similar loose gun laws, as gun dealers are required to record and report all gun sales.  

The father of the shooter, Ian Mercer, who lives in California, said to the press, “They talk about gun control every time something like this happens. They talk about it, and nothing is done … It has to change.” He later added that he had no idea his son owned any guns.

President Obama came to Roseburg to offer his condolences to the family members and victims of the shooting in person on Oct. 9. In remarks prior to his visit, he said, “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 have become numb to this.” Obama also brought up the topic of gun control, talking about pushing for better gun control laws.

As for Umpqua Community College, they are still in a time of grieving. Candle light vigils were held in Roseburg and Portland following the shootings. The interim leader of Umpqua Community College called Oct. 1 “the saddest day in the history of the college.”

In a message to the Portland Public Schools community, superintendent Carole Smith outlined steps taken by the district to help keep students safe, mentioning more stringent monitoring of safety drills, installation of video surveillance systems at all non-high schools and requiring all visitors to wear a badge.

“I was shocked and saddened by the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College last week.  I want to express my deep condolences to the entire Umpqua community and especially to the families who lost loved ones,” Smith said.