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June 13, 2021
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Gunman Chris Harper-Mercer described as ‘hate-filled’

Key details on the mass shooting

  • The gunman who attacked Umpqua Community College and killed nine people, identified by law enforcement sources as Chris Harper-Mercer, was described as a “hate-filled” individual with anti-government, anti-religious and white supremacy leanings.
  • A total of 13 weapons were found at the college where the attack took place and at the apartment of the gunman.
  • Read what we know so far about Mercer, 26.

635793098654956980-AP-Oregon-School-ShootingThe gunman who carried out the deadly attack on Umpqua Community College was described Friday as a “hate-filled” individual, with anti-religion and white supremacist leanings who has long struggled with mental health issues, law enforcement sources said.

Officials said Friday they had recovered 13 weapons tied to the shooter, Chris Harper Mercer, 26. Six were found at the college, seven were found during a search of his apartment — and all were legally purchased, officials said.

During the Thursday rampage that left nine dead and 10 wounded, Mercer wore body armor and had extra ammunition, although it was unclear whether he carried it during the shooting or left it in his car, a federal source said Friday. Mercer was killed in a gunfight with sheriff’s deputies.

Armed with three handguns and an assault rifle, he stormed the college’s Snyder Hall about 10:30 a.m. Thursday and started firing. As the shots erupted, students cowered in their classrooms and frantically called 911, sending a stream of ambulances, their sirens screaming, to the campus.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin on Friday refused to use the gunman’s name, saying he did not want to “glorify” the man whose actions have stunned the rural timberland community 180 miles south of Portland.

During a briefing, Hanlin tried to keep the focus on the victims. “These families are currently living through the nightmare in the most personal way possible,” Hanlin said.

Meanwhile, new details were emerging about Mercer, who was apparently obsessed with guns, held anti-religion views and liked to discuss military history. Sources said he left behind an angry, hate-filled note.

Through interviews, investigators said they discovered that Mercer struggled with his mental health since he was a teenager and that his condition undermined his ability to succeed in life, a law enforcement source said.

One of the setbacks occurred in 2008, when he was discharged from the Army after only one month for failing to meet the minimum administrative standards to serve, according to records. He had been stationed at Ft. Jackson, S.C, from Nov. 5 to Dec. 11 of that year.

The community college remained closed and cordoned off to traffic on Friday.

“Yesterday was a challenging day,” Dr. Jason Gray of Mercy Medical Center told reporters in the morning. “The days and weeks ahead will be the most challenging” as the community of about 22,000 people tries to deal with the aftermath of the shooting that touched almost everyone’s life. Ten people were treated at Mercy Medical Center, he said.

“The initial emotions are disbelief,” Gray said. “It’s still very raw.”

But he found some comfort, he said, in the outpouring of support from people across the country.

full_3dfc6baa5c16e531d488b296a0da3414.nbcnews-ux-320-320None of the victims have been officially named. Gray said they were men and women of varying ages, saying the average age skewed young. Some of the victims’ injuries, he said, included gunshot wounds to the abdomen and head.

Of those treated at Mercy, one died, two were quickly treated and released and three were transferred to a hospital near Eugene for higher-level care, Gray said. Hospital officials in Eugene said two patients were stable and one was being moved out of the intensive care unit.

Of the four remaining patients at Mercy, one was discharged late Thursday and one is expected to leave Friday.

One patient was listed in critical condition and one in stable condition, Gray said.

The shooting is the latest in a series of attacks that has prompted calls for tougher gun control laws.

635793073332718659-umpqua-ccHanlin spoke out against gun control legislation last year, telling a state legislative committee that mandating background checks for private, person-to-person gun sales would not prevent criminals from getting firearms.

Hanlin also sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after the 2012 shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

Hanlin said he and his deputies would refuse to enforce new gun-control restrictions “offending the constitutional rights of my citizens.”

On Friday, Hanlin said he he hasn’t changed his position on gun control, but refused to discuss any details.

“My focus right now is on getting this investigation completed,” he told reporters. “This is not an appropriate time to have conversation” about gun control.

Muskal reported from Los Angeles, Gerber from Roseburg and Serrano from Washington. Times staff writers Matt Pearce in Roseburg and W.J. Hennigan in Washington contributed to this report.

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