Nine innocent people are dead. Several more are injured.
A disturbing update from Thursday’s tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon finds that the murderer, identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, now deceased, asked his victims to state their religious affiliations before shooting them. The wrong answer ended in a round of bullets.
Eyewitnesses confirmed the latest reports:
Kortney Moore, 18, told the Roseburg News-Review that the shooter then burst into the room and ordered students to get on the ground, before asking people to stand up and state their religion. He then began firing. Moore said she was lying on the ground with people who had been shot.
Other students reportedly took desperate measures to deter the gunman:
Janet Willis told the Los Angeles Times that her 18-year-old granddaughter, Ana Boylan, had been shot in the back and was airlifted to a hospital in Eugene. Willis said Boylan told her that the gunman asked others in the classroom to rise and state their religion.
"If they said they were Christians, they were shot again," Willis said. "[Boylan and another wounded girl] just laid on the ground and pretended they were dead."
Authorities have yet to confirm Mercer’s motive for the deadly rampage, but his social media accounts portray a disturbed young man. His MySpace page, for instance, includes a picture of him holding a rifle and showing sympathy toward the Irish Republican Army, a group that has launched a series of terror attacks throughout Northern Ireland and England.
We will keep you updated as investigators uncover more clues to a possible motive.