A blog post attributed to Umpqua Community College shooter Chris Harper Mercer seems to provide some insight into what may have motivated the 26-year-old to shoot 16 people, killing nine, Thursday morning in Oregon.
He was particularly interested in the shooting last month in Virginia, which left a news reporter and her cameraman dead. Mercer’s interest lies with the shooter, Vester Flanagan, according to an excerpt unearthed by CBS News.
“I have noticed that so many people like [Flanagan] are alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
Now everyone knows his name, although at a press conference following the shooting at Umpqua Community College, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin declared he would not name him or “give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act,” CBS Los Angeles reported.
A few details about the perpetrator of the shooting at Umpqua Community College — one of 200 mass shootings this year in the U.S. — are emerging from neighbors, family, and his various online profile. Described as a “really unfriendly” man by a neighbor, Mercer was often seen sitting alone in the dark at his apartment.
Other neighbors back in the Los Angeles-area communities of Torrance and Tarzana, where he lived for a time, said he often wore military-style clothing, didn’t appear to have a job, girlfriend, or friends, was obsessed with guns, and often went to a gun range.
His online profiles add more to the picture. On a dating profile, his hobbies and interests were listed as “Internet, killing zombies, movies, music, reading,” and he was apparently searching for a partner — or a “yin to my yang.” He was conservative, identifying as a Republican who didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, and didn’t like organized religion.
Contrasting with these meager details are kinder impressions from his family. Stepsister Carmen Nesnick said he was born in England and traveled to the U.S. as a child. His father lives in Tarzana and married her mom. Admittedly, she had little contact with him over the years, meeting him only a few times, but she described him as a caring person.
“All he ever did was put everybody before himself. He wanted everyone to be happy. No matter if he was sad or mad, he would always try to cheer up everybody.”
His father, Ian, said he was “just as shocked as anybody at what happened today. I can’t answer any questions right now. I don’t want to answer any questions right now. Obviously, it’s been a devastating day, devastating for me and my family.”
But then there are the details about what happened at Umpqua Community College. Witnesses said he was wearing body armor and was heavily armed; police found four guns. He reportedly asked students’ religions before shooting them, and authorities are trying to determine if it was a hate crime. He exchanged gunfire with police.
The New York Daily News linked to the chilling audio of the police response to the shooting at Umpqua Community College, which began with a report of an active shooter at 10:38 a.m. Dispatch then referred to someone “outside one of the doors shooting through the doors,” a female who’d been shot perhaps in a computer lab, then reports of an exchange of gunfire with the shooter. And then, news that it was over.
“The suspect is down. We’ve got multiple gunshot wounds. We’re going to need multiple ambulances on scene.”
In the end, 10 were dead, including Mercer, and seven were wounded, at least three critically. One of them is Ana Boylan, who underwent surgery after a bullet was found lodged near her spine, NBC News reported. Ana was in a classroom at Umpqua Community College when the shooter burst in and shot her professor.
“We are waiting to see,” her mom, Deanna, said. “I will be better when she is out and we know more information.”
[Photo Courtesy Michael Lloyd / Getty Images]