Oregon Shooter 'Targeted Christians'
Sheriff says gunman doesn't deserve to be named
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2015 12:19 AM CDT
Updated Oct 2, 2015 5:24 AM CDT
People gather for a candlelight vigil at Stewart Park in Roseburg, Ore., after a shooting with multiple fatalities occurred at Umpqua Community College on Thursday.   (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian via AP)
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(Newser) – The man who opened fire at a community college in Oregon Thursday has been identified, but the local sheriff refuses to say his name. Multiple law enforcement sources have identified the shooter as Chris Harper Mercer, a 26-year-old who lived in Winchester, Ore., a few miles away from Umpqua Community College, the BBC reports. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, however, says he will never utter the man's name, the Oregonian reports. "I will not name the shooter," the sheriff told reporters at a Thursday night briefing in Roseburg. "I will not give him credit for this horrific act of cowardice." The sheriff says the shooter is among the nine dead, and although he exchanged fire with deputies, it's not yet clear whether he was killed by police gunfire or took his own life. In other developments:

  • The father of a wounded student tells CNN that the gunman targeted Christians. He says his daughter has told him that after the shooter entered the classroom, students dropped to the ground and he told them to stand up if they were Christian. "They would stand up and he said, 'Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second,'" the father says. "And then he shot and killed them."

  • Mercer lists "organized religion" as one of his dislikes in a dating site profile where he describes his views as "conservative, republican," reports the Daily Beast. His online presence also includes a Myspace page where he shows support for the IRA, and a blog in which he talks about Roanoke gunman Vester Flanagan. "A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone," he writes. "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 you're in the limelight."
  • Mercer has also been linked to an account on a torrent upload site with the username "Lithium Love," the Guardian reports. His final upload, around three days ago, was a documentary on the Sandy Hook school shooting.
  • A California man who was married to the suspect's aunt tells the Daily Beast that Mercer is biracial, with a black mother and a white father who was "out of the picture" before he was born. He says the mother is from a "very upper middle class" household in Torrance, Calif.
  • The apartment complex where Mercer lived has been surrounded by police tape, the AP reports. A neighbor says Mercer would "sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light." She says he lived with his mother, who was "crying her eyes out" Thursday afternoon.
(A visibly angry President Obama called for stronger gun laws in the 15th statement on a mass shooting of his presidency.)