By Abby Shamray,
Domestic News Writer
A recent shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on October 1, left ten people dead and seven people wounded. The shooter, Christopher Harper-Mercer, began shooting thirty to forty minutes after the beginning of class.
According to CBS News, he instructed the students and professor in the classroom he went into to get on the ground and proceeded to go from classroom to classroom.
A survivor of the shooting, 18-year-old Matthew Downing, was deemed “the lucky one” by Harper-Mercer and has been instrumental in bringing to light what exactly occurred during the shooting. CNN reports that Downing was told he would be would not be shot if he gave police an envelope containing a flash drive.
While the shooter fired his gun indiscriminately the majority of the time, often firing into large groups of students in classrooms, Downing said that he would occasionally pause and ask for his victims’ religious affiliation. Downing said that for the deaths he was present for, Harper-Mercer shot a person who self-identified as Christian and another who was Catholic but stated that he was unsure if he believed in an afterlife.
Once the police arrived, the shooter’s focus shifted and he went from shooting students to firing outside of the school. He reloaded his handguns and exchanged shots with the police until he toowas shot. At that point, Downing said that Harper-Mercer laid down on the ground and shot himself in the head.
According to Yahoo, the shooter’s mother has spoken online about her and her son’s love of firearms, stating that she kept “two full mags in [her] Glock case. And the ARs and AKs [she keeps] all have loaded mags.”. The shooter had on him five handguns, one long fun, a flak jacket, and an abundance of ammunition. According to the LA Canyon News, the apartment he shared with his mother had eight additional firearms in it.
In the aftermath of the shooting, survivors as well as friends and family of the dead have been working to reconcile what happened. Chris Mintz, one of the injured, was released from the hospital in time to attend the first day of classes since the incident. According to Fox 8, on the memorial wall outside of the amphitheater, he wrote “I love you all –CM.”. A friend who went with him and wrote about their experience said that he wanted to go into the classroom where he was shot as a way to “heal further.” However, the classroom was still closed at that point.
One of the victims was Sarena Moore, who was in a wheelchair and had a service dog beside her. The gunman ordered her to stand up and then shot her. Her dog survived and is now in the care of Moore’s fiancé, Travis Dow. According to CNN, He said, “He’s been acting really droopy. He knows she ain’t coming home, ‘cause she was there when the fatal day happened.”
Lutheran Church Charities K9 Comfort Dogs of Nebraska sent six therapy dogs to Roseburg as a way to facilitate healing. In an interview with NBC Nebraska, Don Moeller, a dog handler said, “There’s going to be a lot of hurting people for a long, long time…But, at least it’s a start.”
The Oregon shooting was not the most recent school shooting this month. On October 9, just eight days after the UCC shooting, two more shootings occurred at Northern Arizona University and Texas Southern University. According to RT America, in 2015, there have been 52 school shootings, with combined a death toll of 30 people and the amount of injuries numbering 53. Of those 52, 21 were at colleges and universities, 15 were at high schools, 10 were at elementary schools, two were at preschools, and one was on a school bus.
The shooting at UCC, as well as the other school shootings this year, have caused questions about gun violence, safety at schools, and gun control to bubble up for politicians and in the headlines.
President Obama spoke out after the shooting, saying at a fundraiser in San Francisco, “My biggest frustration is that this society hasn’t been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do damage. We’re the only developed country where this happens. And it happens weekly. Our levels of gun violence is off the charts.”
The father of the shooter has spoken out about gun control as well. However, Louisiana governor and Republican presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal, believed the father’s thinking to be an issue, saying that this man had no right to talk about gun control since he has stated that he was not present in the shooter’s life. According to the Huffington Post, Jindal called for a “renaissance of decency, a spiritual revival” as a way to prevent mass shooters.
The police are still investigating the shooting, and local schools have said that they are waiting until conclusions can be made before adding to their security measures.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 20th print edition.
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