Chris Harper-Mercer, the Oregon shooter whose shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College left 10 dead (including the gunman) and seven injured, allegedly asked students their religion before shooting and killing those who admitted they were Christians, CNN is reporting.
At about 10:38 a.m. local time, the gunman — later identified as Harper-Mercer — began walking through the halls of the community college in Roseburg, Oregon, and began shooting indiscriminately. By the time the massacre was over, seven people were injured and 10 people were dead, including Harper-Mercer himself. As of this post, it is unclear if the shooter committed suicide or was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.
Eighteen-year-old Anastasia Boylan was in a classroom when the shooter entered. As students hit the floor and took cover behind their desks, she says Harper-Mercer ordered everyone to stand. He then asked if they were Christians.
“And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them.”
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) October 2, 2015
Anastasia, who had been shot in the back, survived by playing dead. Twitter user @BodhiLooney also claimed that the Oregon shooter was targeting Christians, saying that her grandmother was in a classroom where Christians were shot and killed.
Neighbors and fellow students who had a passing familiarity with Harper-Mercer described him as “skittish” and “deliberate.” Neighbor Steven Fisher told CNN that Mercer behaved as if he was always up to something.
“His demeanor, the way he moved, always looking around. I got a bad vibe from him.”
The Oregon shooter’s presence on social media paints a somewhat clearer picture of his motives and his disdain for religion, particularly Christianity, according to Slate.
In a Myspace profile believed to be Mercer’s, images show a smiling Harper-Mercer holding a gun amid photos of Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorists and propaganda.
Pro-IRA propaganda images on the MySpace social media page of Oregon mass shooting suspect Chris Harper Mercer pic.twitter.com/0KqAPO5eaO
— Simon Carswell (@SiCarswell) October 2, 2015
On the Myspace profile, the user lists “organized religion” as one of his “dislikes.”
In a blog post that has since been removed, a user with the handle lithium_love (believed to be Mercer) praises Virginia shooter Vester Flanagan, the news reporter who killed two coworkers and then himself on live TV earlier this year.
“I have noticed that so many people like him are all 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 the more people you kill, the more your’re in the limelight.”
The New York Post also found a post on the anything-goes website 4Chan that may or may not have presaged the Oregon shooting (or it very well could be coincidence). On Wednesday night, an anonymous user posted the following.
“Some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest. happening thread will be posted tomorrow morning. so long space robots.”
As of this post, investigators have not revealed the names of the victims of the Oregon shooter, saying that their identities will be released “Saturday or Sunday.”
[Images courtesy of Getty Images/Michael Lloyd,