A gunman was dead Thursday after he opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, leaving 10 people dead and seven injured, the local sheriff said.
After many conflicting reports about the number of people killed and injured in the campus shooting, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said late Thursday afternoon that he was providing the most accurate information he had.
It was not immediately clear if the 10 killed included the shooter. The Sheriff’s Office was called to the community college campus about 10:38 a.m. by a 911 call reporting an active shooter at the Southern Oregon school.
The male shooter had been “neutralized” and was dead after an exchange of gunfire with responding officers, Hanlin said. No officers were injured, and the sheriff said he was pleased with their response.
Law enforcement sources later identified the gunman to CNN as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer.
The shooter was targeting Christians specifically, according to the father of a wounded student.
Anastasia Boylan, 18, told her father and brother before undergoing spinal surgery that the gunman entered her classroom firing, shooting the point blank.
Others were hit, and everyone in the classroom dropped to the ground, she told her family.
As he reloaded, the shooter ordered the students to stand up if they were Christians.
“And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,'” Boylan’s father, Stacy, told CNN. “And then he shot and killed them.”
Mercer had body armor with him, was heavily armed and had enough ammunition for a prolonged gunfight, a law enforcement official told CNN.
Authorities believe a relatively quick response by law enforcement kept the death toll from being higher.
Hanlin said he was not yet prepared to release any information about the shooter, who was originally described by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown as a 20-year-old man.
“I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought,” Hanlin said at an evening news conference.
The identities of the victims would be released in 24 to 48 hours, the sheriff said.
The gunfire appeared to have started in one building before the shooter moved to the school’s science building, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN. Those killed and wounded were found in at least two classrooms.
First responders found “multiple patients in multiple classrooms,” Douglas County Fire Marshal Ray Shoufler told CNN.
Four guns — three pistols and one rifle — that were believed to have belonged to the suspect were recovered at the scene, a law enforcement official told CNN.
Authorities were looking at social media posts by a person they believe may have been the shooter, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN. The night before the attack, the alleged shooter appears to have had a conversation with others online about his intentions, the source said.
Student Lacey Gregory told Portland television station KOIN that she was in the library when the shooting occurred. Officers issued her and other students to a safe zone, Gregory said.
“It was really scary,” Gregory said, speaking live on air by phone. “Our hands went over our heads as we walked out in a single-file line. … We just stood there and prayed to God that we were going to make it.”
She spoke from the county fairgrounds, where authorities took students and college staff. The Red Cross was present, she told KOIN.
Rita Cavin, the college’s interim president, said the campus was closed amid the crime-scene investigation.
“Today was the saddest day in the history of the college,” Cavin said at a brief afternoon news conference. “This is a tragedy.”
Cavin said one final bus was heading from the school to the Douglas County Fairgrounds, where other student had already been moved.
“We have grief counselors for those parents who have no children coming off that bus,” Cavin said. “It’s been extremely sad right now to watch these families wait for the last bus.”
Officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the scene, according to a bureau tweet. FBI agents also headed to Roseburg.
Roseburg, with about 22,000 residents, is about 175 miles south of Portland, off the 5 Freeway.
The college is on a hill outside of the city center, according to CNN military analyst Rick Francona, who lives nearby. The area is fairly rural but accessible because of the nearby interstate, he told the network.
“This is so out of character for this whole area,” Francona said.