Chris Harper-Mercer, the man who engaged in a senseless act of carnage at Umpqua Community College this week, took the lives of nine people. We know now from the medical examiner’s report that Mercer killed himself on the day of the horrific attack. Police had engaged Mercer–wounding him–but he was able to get away, according to The New York Times. He suffered a self-inflicted wound shortly thereafter and died in the ambulance en route to the hospital. Additionally, 14 firearms recovered in this investigation, six at the school and an additional seven at the Mercer’s residence, according to CNN. We also know the names of Mercer’s victims. The ages range from 18 to 67:
Those killed are Lucero Alcaraz, 19; Treven Taylor Anspach, 20; Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18; Quinn Glen Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Dale Johnson, 34; Lawrence Levine, 67; and Sarena Dawn Moore, 44.
You can read more about their profiles here.
CNN added that Mercer was enrolled at the school, taking two courses in English and theater. As to the motive, that remains murky, though he appears to have been on angry individual, with mental health issues:
The writings include ramblings about his racial animus toward black people and general feelings of anger about being isolated and unable to make relationships, law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told CNN.
Two officials said that after the shooting, the gunman's family told investigators that he suffered from mental health issues and had sought treatment.
The writings also reflect an apparent fascination with the Irish Republican Army, one law enforcement official said. A MySpace page believed to belong to the gunman, which included photos of him, included photos of IRA posters.
But investigators so far have found no indication he was linked with any organized groups.
The Times reported that he was into gun and hunting, visited the range with his mother regularly, but didn’t take much about his personal life. On a side note, there are millions of Americans who own multiple firearms and go to the range and DON’T commit mass shootings:
Mr. Harper-Mercer collected handguns and rifles, and he regularly went to a shooting range with his mother, said neighbors in Torrance, Calif., where the two lived until moving to Oregon in 2013. At a barbecue shortly before they left, Mr. Harper-Mercer spent hours talking with a next-door neighbor about guns and how he and his mother were excited to leave Los Angeles and get a fresh start.
“When we talked about guns and hunting, he was real open about it,” said the neighbor, Louie Flores, 32. “But anything about what was going on in his life, he really didn’t say too much at all.”
After his parents divorced when he was about 16, he lived with his mother, Laurel Harper, a nurse who fiercely protected him from, among other things, the neighborhood sounds of loud children and barking dogs. Once, neighbors said, she went door to door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.
“She said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him,’ ” Julia Winstead, 55, said. “She said they were going to go stay in a motel. Until that time, I didn’t know she had a son.”
He was listed as a 2009 graduate of the Switzer Learning Center in Torrance, a private school for students with learning disabilities, emotional issues and other special-education needs. Officials from the school declined to comment on Friday. Mr. Harper-Mercer joined the Army for a month in 2008 but was discharged before finishing basic training.
From other accounts, Mercer was reclusive and unfriendly:
One night, the Flores family, the next-door neighbors, were watching a movie when Mr. Harper-Mercer knocked on the door.
“He said: ‘Can you turn that down? Your TV is really loud,” Esther Flores said. “And he just had that look. No smile, nothing. And he just turned and walked away. My husband didn’t even have a chance to respond.”
In Winchester, Ore., Mr. Harper-Mercer and his mother shared an apartment in a dun-colored building that sat roped off behind police tape on Thursday evening, guarded by sheriff’s deputies who shooed away reporters.
Bronte Hart, a neighbor who said she lived in an apartment below Mr. Harper-Mercer’s, described a more assertive young man than his former neighbors in California did. Far from avoiding social interaction, she said, he frequently shouted at her for smoking on her balcony.
“He yelled at us, me and my husband,” said Ms. Hart, who lives with her husband and father. “He was not a friendly type of guy. He did not want anything to do with anyone.”
It’s clear that Mercer had problems. The extend of which we will know in due time.