A mass shooting at a community college in the US state Oregon has left nine dead and at least seven others injured.
The shooting took place on Thursday morning at around 10:45 local time, at Umpqua Community College in Rosenburg, Oregon, a small town around 180 miles south of Portland. The shooter has been unofficially identified as Chris Harper Mercer, according to local media sources, and it was confirmed that he was shot dead after an exchange of fire with police.
Douglas County Sherrif John Hanlin refused to name the shooter in a press conference following the event, stating “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this terrible act. Focus your attention on the victims and the families.”
The motive is as yet unclear, however the online presence of Harper Mercer seems to point to an affiliation with previous mass shootings. Students who witnessed the shooting reported that the shooter told everyone to get down on the ground, then stand up one by one and state their religion, although he then began firing everywhere.
The local community pulled together to hold a candlelit vigil on Thursday evening, attended by thousands in Rosenburg’s Stewart Park. Oregon Governess Kate Brown spoke at the vigil, saying “We don’t know why this happened, we only know that we are called to come together as a community to banish fear and affirm love”. Further vigils were held at both the City Hall and the University Chapel in Portland.
President Obama reacted to this latest college shooting in a speech where he again called for tighter gun control laws, stating “This has become routine…we’ve become numb to this” and condemning the violence. He offered his condolences to the families of the victims, but made it clear that he felt that the blame for the shooting laid with the government officials who had failed to enact a change in the law: “We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction,” he said.