A shooting took place Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Oregon where witnesses said the gunman specifically targeted Christians.
Fox News reports that the shooter, Christopher Harper Mercer, killed at least nine people and wounded at least seven, although some sources believe the death toll could be as high as 13.
The shooting took place in the small town of Roseburg, Oregon where witnesses said Mercer shot victims in a number of classrooms.
One student, Kortney Moore, said her Writing 115 teacher was shot in the head. The New York Post reports that another witness said the shooter began asking people about their faith.
“‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian, stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” said Stacy Boylan, whose daughter was wounded in the shooting.
In investigating Mercer’s history and possible motives for the shooting, officials have noted that he was part of an online group against organized religion. Mercer also seemed to have a fascination with the terror tactics of the Irish Republican Army, as well as the Nazis.
The New York Post reports that Mercer wrote a blog post in which he mentions Vester Lee Flanagan, the shooter in the recent WDBJ on-air shooting, stating, “Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
A number of officials and psychiatrists have acknowledged that Mercer was likely looking for his five minutes of fame.
In a press conference, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin stated,“I will not give him the credit he probably sought. You will never hear me use his name.”
Michael Daly, writing for The Daily Beast, agrees, stating that we ought to focus on the heroes of the shooting, rather than the killer.
Daly specifically acknowledges 30-year-old army veteran Chris Mintz. Mintz had gotten back from being deployed and settled down in Oregon where he had begun college classes at the community college in Roseburg. When the shooter began his rampage, Mintz charged the gunman and was shot at least five times.
After his valiant effort, Mintz lay on the floor wounded, repeating, “It’s my son’s birthday, it’s my son’s birthday,” thinking of his son even while seriously injured.
Although Mintz will likely have a long road to recovery, doctors say he is in stable condition.
The recent shooting has reopened the debate for stricter gun control laws, with President Obama bemoaning yet another tragedy and stating that America is “the only advanced country on Earth [that] sees these kind of mass shootings every few months.”
The New York Post reports that this shooting brings the total number of mass shootings in the nation this year to 294.
Mercer was killed by police in a shootout outside one of the college’s classrooms.
Publication date: October 2, 2015