Several dead in Oregon college shootings

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Satellite map of the college campus.
Image: US Geological Survey.

Nine people were killed on Thursday by 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. By various reports seven or nine people were also injured. Officials said Mercer killed himself during the subsequent shootout with police.

Mercer began the killing spree in a class where he was a student by shooting the class teacher, and killed eight students in that and at least one other classroom. In the next classroom, a student nurse unsuccessfully tried to save the life of her friend who was wounded by the gunman. Another student, ex-soldier Chris Mintz, was shot seven times after coming to help.

The reasons for the attack are not known but CNN reports he singled out people who identified themselves as Christian. The BBC noted Mercer may have revealed his plans via social media and possibly left a written statement. He briefly served in the US Army in 2008.

An ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) agent said authorities found six weapons at the college and a further seven weapons from the gunman's home, including a shotgun, all of which appear to have been obtained lawfully by Mercer and members of his family. State laws permit people to carry concealed weapons in higher education institutions and at least one other person at the college was armed. Oregon recently passed a new gun law in response to a shooting incident in 2012, in which a man used a stolen rifle to murder two other people in a Portland shopping center.

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

—Barack Obama

Later on Thursday, President Barack Obama spoke for twelve minutes about the incident and called for stricter gun controls in line with other countries like Australia and the United Kingdom. Referring to earlier similar shootings, he said "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 have become numb to this". This is reportedly the fifteenth occasion Obama has spoken out after such a killing spree. He expressed his belief that there would soon be a "press release" from the pro-gun lobby, who would call for a reduction of gun controls. He also predicted there would be criticism levelled at him about his politicization of the matter, but he said "this is something we should politicize." Although no new initiative was outlined, Obama highlighted Congressional opposition which had stopped "the collection of data on shooting incidents" and stated "this is not something I can do myself."

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