The Latest: Victim told grandmother Christians targeted

AP News
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Posted: Oct 02, 2015 10:43 PM
The Latest: Victim told grandmother Christians targeted

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — The latest on a deadly shooting at a community college in Oregon (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

The grandmother of one of the Oregon shooting victims says her granddaughter told her the gunman was singling out students who said they were Christian.

Janet Willis told The Associated Press her granddaughter, Anastasia Boylan, was in the classroom when the shooter opened fire Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.

Willis, who visited her granddaughter in the hospital, says Boylan told her the shooter was asking students about their faith. "If they said they were Christian, he shot them in the head," Willis says her granddaughter told her.

Willis says her granddaughter also told her the shooter handed a student who wasn't shot a package and told him to deliver it to authorities.

Authorities have said Christopher Harper-Mercer killed nine students at the college. He died following a shootout with police.

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5:31 p.m.

Oregon's top federal prosecutor says the shooter used a handgun when he opened fire on classmates at an Oregon college, killing nine and injuring nine others.

Interim U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said Friday Christopher Harper-Mercer stashed a rifle in another room and did not fire it. He says it's impossible to know what the shooter had planned for the rifle.

Williams says all the information investigators have uncovered so far suggests the gunman acted alone.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Celinez Nunez said earlier Friday that investigators recovered six weapons at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College in Roseburg and seven others at the gunman's apartment.

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4 p.m.

Oregon State Police say the gunman was enrolled in the class he attacked.

State police also provided the first official confirmation of the shooter's identity: 26-year-old Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer.

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3:02 p.m.

President Barack Obama is ordering that American flags be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of the mass shooting at an Oregon community college.

Obama signed the proclamation at the White House on Friday. He's directing flags to be lowered until sunset Tuesday.

The order applies to flags at the White House, public buildings, U.S. military installations and naval vessels, government facilities and U.S. embassies abroad.

Authorities say a 26-year-old gunman opened fire Thursday in a class at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College, killing nine and injuring nine others.

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2:56 p.m.

The Oregon community college where nine people were shot and killed has canceled classes for all of next week.

Authorities on Friday identified the nine victims as 19-year-old Lucero Alcaraz, of Roseburg; 18-year-old Quinn Glen Cooper, of Roseburg; 59-year-old Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, of Roseburg; 18-year-old Lucas Eibel, of Roseburg; 67-year-old teacher Lawrence Levine, of Glide; Jason Dale Johnson, of Winston; 18-year-old Rebecka Ann Carnes, of Myrtle Creek; 44-year-old Sarena Dawn Moore, of Myrtle Creek; and 20-year-old Treven Taylor Anspach, of Sutherlin.

A statement from Eibel's family says he volunteered at a wildlife center and animal shelter. He was studying chemistry and loved to play soccer.

Cooper's family says he was funny and compassionate and loved dancing and voice acting.

A statement from Johnson's family says he was a Christian and recently enrolled in school.

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2:37 p.m.

The victims of the deadly Oregon college shooting ranged in age from 18 to 67 and included several freshman students and a teacher.

Authorities released the names, ages and brief biographical information about the nine people who died at a Friday news conference.

The victims included a freshman who was active in Future Farmers of America and loved to play soccer. Another was an 18-year-old who graduated from high school in June and was in his fourth day of college.

Yet another was a 34-year-old who was proud of himself for recently enrolling at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin also clarified Friday that nine people were injured in the shooting.

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1:51 p.m.

President Barack Obama says opponents of gun control laws know how to stir up fear and scare politicians.

Obama is lamenting the inability to pass stricter gun laws even after incidents such as the shooting Thursday at an Oregon community college that killed nine people.

Obama said at a news conference Friday at the White House that interest groups and Republican politicians know how to organize and raise money. He says the American people must match their sense of urgency if the country is to stop the flood of mass shootings.

The president says he plans to keep talking about the issue and "will politicize it" because inaction is itself a political decision the U.S. is making.

He says it's impossible to identify mentally ill people likely to perpetrate mass shootings ahead of time. He says the only thing the U.S. can do is ensure they don't have an arsenal available "when something in them snaps."

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1:12 p.m.

Former California neighbors of the gunman who killed nine people at an Oregon community college say he was temperamental and ignored people.

The neighbors encountered 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer at an apartment complex in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, where he lived with his mother until a few years ago.

Nineteen-year-old Reina Webb told The Associated Press on Friday that he kept to himself, but if he did talk, it would be as if he was having a temper tantrum. She says he often rode a red bicycle.

Another neighbor, Jason Lee, says no one really knew Harper-Mercer because he would ignore people who said hello and just ride on by.

Webb says Harper-Mercer's mother was friendly, chatted with neighbors and told her they were moving to make a new start in Oregon.

Harper-Mercer attended El Camino College in Torrance from 2010 to 2012. Campus spokeswoman Ann Garten says she has no details on whether he graduated or what he studied.

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12:52 p.m.

One of three young Americans who stopped a gunman on a Paris-bound train this summer would have been at an Oregon community college where a shooter killed nine people if he had not been rehearsing for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

ABC News reported Friday (http://abcn.ws/1YUbsvv ) that Alek Skarlatos of Roseburg, Oregon, told the network's "Good Morning America" program that he would have been attending a class at Umpqua Community College during Thursday's attack.

Skarlatos gained fame when he helped subdue a man who boarded a train with a rifle, a pistol and a box cutter. He was awarded France's highest honor and his popularity won him a spot on the dancing competition show.

Skarlatos has left rehearsals in Los Angeles to be with family and friends in his hometown.

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This item has been corrected to show Skarlatos' first name is Alek, not Alex.

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12:35 p.m.

Doctors say three women airlifted to a hospital after a deadly mass shooting at an Oregon community college are expected to survive, but one will likely have lasting neurological damage.

Dr. Scott Russi of PeaceHealth Medical Center said at a news conference Friday that the woman was shot in the head and the bullet entered the left side of her brain.

He says another woman flown to the hospital in Springfield was shot in the spine, and the other suffered wounds to the abdomen and chest.

The women range in age from 18 to 34. They were among the seven people wounded in the attack at Umpqua Community College in the small town of Roseburg that left nine people and the gunman dead.

The hospital is about 70 miles north of Roseburg.

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12:24 p.m.

An aunt of an Army veteran hit by several bullets during the shooting rampage at an Oregon college says he was shot trying to stop the gunman from entering a classroom.

Wanda Mintz told The Associated Press on Friday that her 30-year-old nephew Chris Mintz, a student at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College, fell to the floor and asked the shooter to stop. But she says the gunman shot Mintz again and entered the classroom.

Authorities say 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer killed nine people and wounded seven others Thursday before dying during a shootout with police.

Wanda Mintz says her nephew went through seven hours of surgery and is expected to survive.

Chris Mintz spoke to ABC News from his hospital bed Friday.

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12:06 p.m.

The governor of Oregon and members of the state's congressional delegation have spoken about the need to stem the tide of mass shootings in the U.S. after a gunman killed nine people at a community college but that now is a time for healing.

At a news conference Friday, Gov. Kate Brown, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio commended the small town of Roseburg for coming together to help the victims of Thursday's shooting at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College.

Brown said more must be done to prevent bloodshed but that "today is not the day." She says it's time to help the community heal

Wyden echoed her comments, adding that ending massacres will require compromise.

Merkley, who grew up in the area, thanked first responders and said one of those who died was the great-granddaughter of his first cousin.

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11:27 a.m.

A student who worked on stage productions with the gunman who killed nine people at an Oregon community college says he was a normal guy, if a bit nerdy.

Alex Frier, stage manager for plays at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College, says Christopher Harper-Mercer was a production assistant responsible for building sets last semester.

It wasn't clear if he was enrolled at the college in the small town of Roseburg, but she and some students say they thought he was taking classes.

Frier says Harper-Mercer didn't really interact with her much, but he'd typically wear funny sunglasses.

She says: "He was a typical Roseburg kid, kinda nerdy, kinda out there. Just himself."

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11:10 a.m.

The U.S. Army says the gunman who killed nine people at an Oregon community college flunked out of basic training in 2008.

Lt. Col. Ben Garrett, an Army spokesman, said Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer was in service at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, starting on Nov. 5, 2008. But by Dec. 11, 2008, he was discharged for failing to meet the minimum administrative standards.

Garrett did not say which standards Harper-Mercer failed to meet. Generally, the Army requires recruits to pass physical fitness tests and to be generally in good physical and mental health. Recruits also must score highly enough on a multiple-choice test covering science, math, reading comprehension and other topics.

The shooting Thursday at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College also wounded seven people.

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10:45 a.m.

A federal agency says investigators have recovered six weapons at an Oregon community college and seven at the apartment of the gunman who killed nine people.

ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Celinez Nunez said at a news conference Friday that all of the weapons were purchased legally, seven of them by the shooter or his family members in the last three years. She says investigators also found a flak jacket next to a rifle at the school, which contained steel plates.

The shooting Thursday at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College also wounded seven people. Officials identified the killer as Chris Harper-Mercer. He died after a shootout with police.

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9:20 a.m.

A federal agency says the gunman who killed nine people at an Oregon community college had body armor and was armed with three pistols, a rifle and five additional magazines.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provided the information late Thursday in an incident report obtained by The Associated Press. The guns included a 9mm Glock pistol and .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, both traced to the suspect.

He also had a .40-caliber Taurus pistol traced to someone in Portland and a .556-caliber Del-Ton.

The shooting Thursday at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College also wounded seven. Officials identified the killer as Chris Harper-Mercer. He died after a shootout with police.

He isn't believed to have a criminal history. Investigators believe he may have been a student there because a receipt found at the scene showed he purchased textbooks from the campus bookstore two days before the shooting.

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7:03 a.m.

Social media profiles linked to a 26-year-old shooter who killed at least 9 people at a southern Oregon college suggested he was fascinated by the IRA, frustrated by traditional organized religion and tracked other mass shootings.

There didn't seem to be many recent connections on the social media sites linked to Chris Harper-Mercer, with his MySpace page just showing two friends. He appeared to have at least one online dating profile.

On a torrents streaming site and blog that appeared to belong to Mercer, posts referenced multiple shootings and downloads included several horror films and a documentary on a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

A blog post urged readers to watch the online footage of Vester Flanagan shooting two former colleagues on live TV in Virginia, while another lamented materialism as preventing spiritual development.

A MySpace page that appeared to belong to Mercer included several photos and graphics of the Irish Republican Army as well as a picture of Mercer holding a rifle.

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6:51 a.m.

A doctor says one victim of the deadly mass shooting at an Oregon community college will likely be released from a hospital Friday.

Dr. Jason Gray of Mercy Medical Center says the hospital in Roseburg, which is 180 miles south of Portland, received 10 patients Thursday — one died, two were quickly treated and released and three were transferred to a hospital near Eugene for a higher level of care.

Of the four remaining patients, one was discharged late Thursday, and one was expected to leave Friday. Gray says the other two are expected to survive, but one remains in critical condition.

The three patients who needed additional care were transferred to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend. The Eugene-area hospital says in a news release that two of them are in critical condition and one is in serious condition.

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6:02 a.m.

Authorities investigating a deadly mass shooting at an Oregon community college say they have found a number of firearms at the gunman's apartment.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told television stations in Eugene, Oregon, early Friday that investigators were at Umpqua (UHMP'-kwah) Community College and the shooter's nearby apartment throughout the night. He says investigators will release details on the number and types of weapons later Friday.

Officials identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer and say he opened fire at the college Thursday, killing nine people and wounding seven others before dying during an exchange of gunfire with officers.

Hanlin also says investigators went door to door in the neighborhoods near the college and the shooter's apartment to try to learn more details.