Oregon college shooting: Alleged gunman ID'd as Chris Harper Mercer, 26

Residents gathered at a Roseburg, Ore., park for a vigil for the victims of a deadly mass shooting. Ten people died and another seven were injured in a mass shooting Thursday at a community college in Oregon, according to the latest police briefing.

Residents gathered at local park for vigil

Residents gathered at a Roseburg, Ore., park for a vigil for the victims of a deadly mass shooting. Ten people died and another seven were injured in a mass shooting Thursday at a community college in Oregon, according to the latest police briefing.

The crowd gathered around 8 p.m. local time at Stewart Park in the city, which is about 290 kilometres south of Portland. Many people held up candles as the hymn "Amazing Grace" was played.

Chris Harper Mercer, 26, has been identified as the shooter by several media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, and CBS News, all citing law enforcement sources.

An FBI spokeswoman said Thursday evening that the deceased gunman is included in the death toll.

Douglas Country Sheriff John Hanlin said that police know the identity of the shooter, but he said he would leave it to the medical examiner's officer to officially inform the media of his name.

"I will not name the shooter," said Hanlin. "I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act."

Hanlin encouraged people to focus their attention on the victims and their families.

He called two police officers heroic, saying they entered the building within minutes of the shooting and exchanged fire with the suspect.

Police have cleared the campus and they are now using tactical units and bomb squads to clear all vehicles in the parking lot.

"It's been a terrible day," a grim-faced Hanlin said earlier. "Certainly this is a huge shock to our community."

A neighbour of the the alleged shooter says he "seemed really unfriendly." Bronte Hart lived below Mercer in the community of Winchester. She says Mercer would "sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light."

Hart says a woman she believed to be Mercer's mother also lived upstairs and was "crying her eyes out" Thursday.

Victims names not yet released

Hanlin recognized that there has been conflicting information about the number of casualties ​in the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. Earlier, the state's attorney general and media outlets had said 10 to 15 people were killed. But Hanlin said his numbers are the most accurate.

Hanlin said that because this is what he called a "mass casualty event," they must follow protocol in identifying the victims and notifying their families, a process he said could take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. Only then would IDs be released publicly.

He said the investigation into the shooter is ongoing and said he would not make any comment about the gunman.

The shooter died as he exchanged gunfire with police officers, Hanlin told reporters earlier Thursday. He would not say if the shooter was killed by police or took his own life.

Four of the people injured in the shooting remain hospitalized at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, but are expected to survive, the chief medical officer there said Thursday evening. One of the patients remains in critical condition, but the other three are stable, Dr. Jason Gray said.

Some of the victims who were taken to hospital suffered multiple gunshot wounds, he said.

Gray said three other patients had to be transferred to a hospital in Springfield.

'Prayers are not enough'

Earlier Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed families who lost loved ones in the shooting, telling them that the country's thoughts and prayers are wrapped around them.

A visibly angry Obama spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room, saying the U.S. "is the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kind of mass shootings every few months."

Jessica Vazquez, left, hugged her aunt, Leticia Acaraz, as they awaited word on Acaraz's daughter in the aftermath of Thursday's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. (Andy Nelson/Register-Guard/Associated Press)

Authorities shed no light on the gunman's motive Thursday and said they were investigating.

A student at Umpqua Community College said the gunman shot her teacher then asked others in the classroom about their religion before spraying more bullets.

Kortney Moore, 18, told the Roseburg News-Review newspaper that she was in a writing class when a shot came through a window.

She said the gunman entered the classroom and told people to get on the ground. The man started asking people to stand up and state their religion before opening fire.

Freshman Hannah Miles said she heard gunshots coming from a neighbouring classroom, minutes after her instructor got a call from security saying that the school was on lockdown.

Students, staff and faculty leave Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, after gunman opened fire in a classroom. (Michael Sullivan/The News-Review/Associated Press)

Miles, 19, said she, the teacher and other students huddled together in the locked room and then heard footsteps outside and a man's voice calling to them, "Come on out, come on out."

They remained quiet and didn't open the door until police arrive soon afterward.

Seeing the officers was "like a huge burden had been lifted," Miles said.

Security guard unarmed

It's unclear how many guns the shooter brought to the college. The campus security guard would not, however, have carried a gun, the college's former president told reporters Thursday.

Joe Olson, who retired in June, said that one of the biggest debates on campus last year was whether the school ought to arm its security officers.

The college has about 3,000 full-time students.

Emergency personnel are urging the public to avoid the area. Students and faculty from the college were bused to nearby fairgrounds, where counselling was available and some parents waited for their children.

A candlelight prayer vigil will take place at Stewart Park in the centre of Roseburg at 8 p.m. local time tonight. In Portland, residents will hold a vigil in front of city hall with the Oregon Symphony at the same time, the Oregonian reported.

With files from Reuters


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