A school shooting on Thursday leaves ten dead and another seven injured at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told reporters that the gunman was dead. Though Hanlin declined to name the shooter, as not to glorify him, multiple law enforcement officials have identified him as 26-year-old Charles Harper Mercer.
A quick response by local law enforcement has been credited for keeping the death toll from climbing higher. Hanlin told reporters that tactical teams and bomb squads were quick to clear the campus and worked to clear hundreds of vehicles from the college parking lot.
Reports state that the gunman was wearing body armor and was armed with enough ammunition for a prolonged gun fight. Three pistols and one rifle believed the belong to the shooter were recovered from the scene by law enforcement officials.
The shooting appears to have taken place in multiple buildings, with victims coming from at least two different classrooms. It appears that the gunman began in one building before moving into the school’s science building.
Latest reports state that the gunman specifically targeted Christian students. Wounded student Anastasia Boylan told family members that the gunman entered her classroom and shot the professor point blank. While reloading his weapon, the shooter instructed all Christian students to stand up and then proceeded to shoot them.
Following the shooting, ATF agents were on scene and canine teams and FBI agents were enroute to search the buildings for explosives, firearms, casings and ammunition, a spokesperson told the media.
The city of Roseburg was left shocked by Thursday’s tragedy. Located 180 miles south of Portland, the city of 22,000 people is generally regarded as a peaceful rural center. This sort of tragedy is extremely out of character for the community and the college.
News of Thursday’s shooting was quick to reach Washington. Several senators expressed their condolences and sympathies through social media.
Oregon’s senior senator Ron Wyden tweeted “Oregonians everywhere want Roseburg to know we’re praying for them.”
“Horrific news from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. My heart and prayers are with the victims and their families,” was Senator Jeff Merkley’s response to the tragedy.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation and will continue to receive updates as the situation unfolds. In light of the recent tragedy, President Obama pushed for changes in the nation’s gun laws when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.
“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’ve become numb to this,” the President told reporters.
He continued, “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple months from now.”
Umpqua College’s interim leader called Thursday “the saddest day in the history of the college.”
Umpqua Community College will remained closed until Monday.