Oregon police fired three times at college gunman

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 07, 2015 12:42 PM

By Eric M. Johnson

ROSEBURG, Ore. (Reuters) - Police fired three times at a gunman who killed nine at an Oregon community college, and they struck him once before he moved away and shot himself to death, officials said on Wednesday.

Douglas County District Attorney Rick Wesenberg in a statement said he found the officers were justified in using force against the gunman after he carried out the rampage Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.

The shooting carried out by Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, ranks as the deadliest in the United States in two years and the bloodiest in modern Oregon history.

Authorities indicated last week that Harper-Mercer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but they had given few details on the shootout he had with police officers before he died.

A Roseburg police sergeant and a detective fired three times at Harper-Mercer and struck him once in the side before the gunman moved back and shot himself to death, officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

In addition to the 10 people who died in the massacre, including the gunman, nine others were wounded.

Authorities have said little regarding what they know about the motives of Harper-Mercer, who by many accounts was a troubled, socially awkward loner with a passion for guns.

President Barack Obama, who spoke out forcefully in favor of stricter gun control measures after the massacre, plans to visit Roseburg on Friday to meet privately with families of the victims, the White House said this week.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman)