Oregon college shooting: Gunman acted alone, authorities say

Flags across the United States dropped to half-mast Friday to honour the nine people killed in the largest mass shooting in Oregon's history. All information uncovered so far suggests the gunman acted alone, authorities say.

Classes cancelled at Roseburg college all next week

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin announced on Saturday that the Umpqua Community College gunman committed suicide. He is shown here on Friday identifying the nine victims killed in the mass shooting. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Flags across the United States dropped to half-mast Friday to honour the nine people killed in the largest mass shooting in Oregon's history, as more details about the gunman and the victims began to emerge.

Oregon's top federal prosecutor said Friday evening that Christopher Harper-Mercer used a handgun when he opened fire on his classmates at a community college in Roseburg.  All information uncovered so far suggests the gunman acted alone, interim U.S. attorney Billy Williams said.

Investigators have recovered six weapons at Umpqua Community College and seven at Harper-Mercer's apartment, authorities say.

ATF assistant special agent in charge Celinez Nunez said at a news conference Friday that all of the weapons were purchased legally, seven of them by the shooter or his family members in the last three years. She said investigators found five pistols, along with a flak jacket next to a rifle at the school.

Harper-Mercer died after a shootout with police Thursday.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin released the names Friday of the nine deceased, who ranged in age from 18 to 67. Quinn Cooper, one of the victims, had been at school for only four days when he was killed, officials said, reading from a statement from the teen's parents.

The nine victims were: Lucero Alcaraz, Quinn Glen Cooper, Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, Lucas Eibel, Jason Dale Johnson, Lawrence Levine, Sarena Dawn Moore, Treven Taylor Anspach and Rebecka Ann Carnes. Nine others were wounded in the attack.

Failed military training

Details about Harper-Mercer began to emerge shortly after the shooting. The U.S. Army said Friday afternoon that he flunked out of basic training in 2008.

A military spokesman did not say which standards Harper-Mercer failed to meet. Generally, the military requires recruits to pass physical fitness tests and to be generally in good physical and mental health.

Student recalls shooting.

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Oregon State Police confirmed Friday that Harper-Mercer was enrolled in the writing class that he fired upon, but have not released any details about what the shooter's motive might have been.

Students in a classroom next door heard several shots, one right after the next, and their teacher told them to leave.

"We began to run," student Hannah Miles said. "A lot of my classmates were going every which way. We started to run... and I turned around and saw students pouring out."

Classes at the college have been cancelled all next week.

Three victims released from hospital

Ten victims arrived at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, but three were then transferred to other facilities for higher levels of care, the chief medical officer said. Dr. Jason Gray said one person died in the emergency room.

Three people had been released as of Friday afternoon, while another three remain in hospital. All are expected to survive. 

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered American flags lowered to half-mast until Tuesday at sunset.

He also told reporters that it's up to voters to interrupt the cycle of gun violence that gets repeated every few months. Americans "need to become single-issue voters" for the next few elections in order to reclaim some of the political power held by gun lobbyists, Obama said.

Long lines stretched Friday outside of a blood donor clinic set up for the victims. CBC News reporter Chris Brown said all of the people he spoke with in that line rejected the idea of stronger gun control laws.

"It's not the guns, it's the evil," one woman in line said.

A line stretches outside a blood donor clinic for the shooting victims in Roseburg. CBC News reporter Chris Brown said every person he spoke to in line rejected tighter gun controls. (CBC News)

Harper-Mercer is not believed to have a criminal history. A neighbour of Harper-Mercer, Bronte Harte, told The Associated Press that he  "seemed really unfriendly" and would "sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light."

Harte said a woman she believed to be Harper-Mercer's mother also lived upstairs and was "crying her eyes out" Thursday.

Social profiles linked to Harper-Mercer suggested he was fascinated by the IRA, frustrated by traditional organized religion and tracked other mass shootings.

On a torrents streaming site and blog that appeared to belong to Harper-Mercer, posts referenced multiple shootings and downloads included a documentary on a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. A blog post also urged readers to watch the online footage of Vester Flanagan shooting two former colleagues on live TV in Virginia, while another lamented materialism as preventing spiritual development.

A MySpace page that appeared to belong to Harper-Mercer included several photos and graphics of the Irish Republican Army as well as a picture of Harper-Mercer holding a rifle.

His father, Ian Mercer, said late Thursday that it had been a "devastating day" for him and his family, and he has been talking to police and the FBI about the shooting. He spoke to KABC-TV and several other media outlets gathered outside his house in Tarzana, California.

Hundreds went to a candlelight vigil Thursday night, with many raising candles as the hymn Amazing Grace was played.

Sam Sherman, a former student, said the school helped broaden his opportunities.

"That's all I could think about today. There's 10, 9 kids who won't get those doors opened," he said.

Roseburg is in Douglas County, a politically conservative region west of the Cascade Range where people like to hunt and fish. But it's no stranger to school gun violence. A freshman at the local high school shot and wounded a fellow student in 2006.

With files from CBC News


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