Oregon gunman shy, awkward gun fan

2015-10-03 13:30
Friends and family wait for students at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg. (Ryan Kang, AP)

Friends and family wait for students at the local fairgrounds after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg. (Ryan Kang, AP)

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Winchester - The man killed by police on Thursday after he fatally shot nine people at a southern Oregon community college was a shy, awkward 26-year-old was fascinated with shootings, according to people who knew him and his own social media postings.

Chris Harper-Mercer lived in Torrance, California, before moving to Winchester, Oregon, where he resided in an apartment with his mother Laurel Harper about a four-minute drive from Umpqua Community College, according to online records.

Nine people were wounded when he sprayed bullets into a classroom at the college in Roseburg, a timber town of about 20 000 people that adjoins Winchester.

On Friday, police outside the pink apartment building where he lived said his mother was not home. No one answered the phone number listed for the address, where investigators recovered two pistols, four rifles and one shotgun, in addition to six weapons the shooter took to the college.

A blog post using an email address linked to Harper-Mercer noted the publicity another shooter received after killing two television journalists in Virginia earlier this year.

Army experience

"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," the post said. "Seems the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."

Harper-Mercer was in the Army for a month in 2008 before being discharged for failing to meet administrative standards, military records showed.

Eileen Sandlin, 40, a resident of the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Tarzana where the gunman's father Ian Mercer lives, said her husband, Bob, used to tutor Harper-Mercer in science and maths when he was of middle and high school age.

"He was a quiet kid," Sandlin said. "I got kind of a creepy feeling from him."

She said he seemed socially inept, but that there was no indication Harper-Mercer would do what he did, and that he was never fanatical about religion.

Family members and victims told CNN and other media the gunman lined up students and asked them if they were Christian. Those who answered "yes" were shot in the head.

A photo posted on a MySpace profile belonging to someone named Chris Harper-Mercer showed a young man with a shaved head, dark-rimmed glasses and a serious expression. He was holding a long-barrelled gun.

In an Internet posting on the Spiritual Passions dating and social networking site, a user posted a picture that appears to be Harper-Mercer under the user name Ironcross45, a handle Harper-Mercer used as his email.

He described himself on the site as a 26-year-old, mixed-race "man looking for a woman." He said he was "not religious, but spiritual," a "teetotaler", and a conservative Republican living with his parents. Socially, he said, he was "shy at first" and "better in small groups." He described himself as "always dieting" and looking for "the yin to my yang".

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