A gunman stalked onto an Oregon college campus on Thursday and opened fire, killing nine people and wounding seven before police shot him to death, authorities said, in yet another burst of US gun violence that ranked as the deadliest this year.
The suspect, who witnesses say fired dozens of shots in a classroom full of screaming students, was slain in an exchange of gunfire with two police officers in Snyder Hall at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, ending the morning rampage.
The gunman was not publicly identified by local authorities. A law enforcement source named him as Chris Harper-Mercer. Other media said he was 26.
In a photo posted on a MySpace profile believed to be his, a young man with a shaved head and dark-rimmed eyeglasses is seen staring into the camera while holding a rifle.
CNN reported the suspect was armed with three handguns, a “long gun” and body armor. According to survivors, the gunman at one point ordered cowering students to stand up and state their religion before shooting them one by one.
Stacy Boylan, the father of an 18-year-old student who was wounded but survived by playing dead, told CNN his daughter recounted her professor being shot point blank as the assailant stormed into the classroom.
“He was able to stand there and start asking people one by one what their religion was,” Boylan said, relating the ordeal as described by his daughter. “‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them. … ‘If you’re a Christian, stand up. Good. Because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’ and he shot and killed them. And he kept going down the line doing this to people.”