Oregon sheriff won't 'glorify' mass killing

2015-10-02 18:02
Paramedics return to their ambulances after taking patients to Mercy Medical Centre in Roseburg.

Paramedics return to their ambulances after taking patients to Mercy Medical Centre in Roseburg.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Roseburg - The Oregon sheriff investigating the execution-style killing of at least nine people in a college classroom refused to identify the suspect on Friday, saying he wanted to deny the shooter notoriety, the ultimate prize he sought in the bloodshed.

A day after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, residents of the quiet former timber town struggled to comprehend the deadliest mass killing this year in the United States. The gunman also wounded seven people in the rampage and died in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Law enforcement sources confirmed reports identifying the suspect as Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, who lived with his mother in nearby Winchester.

In a blog post linked to him, Harper-Mercer said he relished the headlines garnered by Vester Flanagan, the man who shot dead two reporters during a live broadcast in Virginia in August before killing himself.

"A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone ... Seems the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight," the post read.

In a highly unusual step, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin vowed never to utter the gunman's name and said he would let the coroner identify the gunman.

"I don't want to glorify his name. I don't want to glorify his cause," Hanlin, an outspoken defender of gun ownership, told CNN.

The gunman stormed into a classroom at the college that serves mostly older students in career transitions, shot a professor at point-blank range, then ordered cowering students to stand up and state their religion before he shot them one by one, according to survivors' accounts.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown declined in television interviews on Friday morning to discuss gun control, as did the sheriff, and said it was a time for healing the community.

A month after the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Hanlin wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden that defended the right to bear arms, protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

"Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings," Hanlin wrote in the letter, dated January 15, 2013.

Just hours after Thursday's shooting, a visibly angry President Barack Obama urged Americans to press their elected leaders to enact tougher firearms safety laws.

"Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here, at this podium, ends up being routine," he said. "We've become numb to this."

In a photo posted on what was believed to be the suspected gunman's MySpace profile, a young man with a shaved head and dark-rimmed eyeglasses stares into the camera while holding a rifle.

A man identifying himself as Ian Mercer, the gunman's father, told reporters outside his home in Los Angeles on Thursday night, "It's been a devastating day, devastating for me and my family."

Authorities offered no motive for the shooting. Hanlin said local homicide detectives and federal agents were conducting an investigation.

Not counting Thursday's incident, 293 mass shootings have been reported this year, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker website, a crowd-sourced database kept by anti-gun activists that logs events in which four or more people are shot.

Read more on:    us  |  shootings

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.