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The suspected gunman in the tragic Umpqua Community College shooting that left nine dead and nine injured has been identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, NBC News reports.

Mercer, who was not a student at the college, arrived on campus Thursday shortly after 10:38 a.m. PT and reportedly killed an English professor before targeting students. A father of one of the victims told reporters Mercer asked the students if they were Christian. If they said yes, they were shot in the head. If they identified as another religion, they were shot below the waist.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said they were investigating the claims, NBC News reports. Hanlin also told reporters Mercer was killed by officers in an exchange of gunfire.

President Barack Obama addressed the nation last night, appearing exasperated as he passionately demanded “concrete steps” to prevent more mass shootings. After condemning the act, Obama said the American people have become numb to the outlandish amount of mass shootings this year.

Since the beginning of 2015, there have been 247 mass shootings, with over 380 deaths and thousands injured.

Obama’s speech from NBC News:

“Somehow, this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. We become numb to this….Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough — it does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted some place else in America next week or a couple months from now.”

“How can you make the argument with a straight face that more guns will make us safer?” he asked, noting that there’s about one gun for every man, woman and child in the U.S. “When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer,” he said. “When Americans are killed in hurricanes and floods, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seat-belt laws because we know it saves lives.

“The notion that gun violence is somehow different — that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations — doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder also chimed in on Twitter:

As police narrow down Mercer’s motive, here are some things you need to know about the gunman.

Students Believe He Targeted Christians

A father of one of the victims told reporters Mercer went after Christians during the shooting. Speaking with CNN, Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, relayed his daughter’s horrifying account. According to Anastasia, Mercer shot an unidentified English professor point-blank range after saying, “I’ve been waiting to do this for years.” After demanding the students line up against a wall, he asked everyone their religion before opening fire. Those who answered they were Christian were shot in the head.

Anastasia was shot in the spine and played dead after Mercer told her to stand up.

Mercer’s Family Called Him a Good Man 

The 26-year-old was born in London, but later moved to the United States as a child. The gunman lived with his mother in Torrance, Calif., before moving to Oregon four years ago. California neighbors called Mercer a loner who kept to himself. His family says they are shocked by his actions, including his father Ian Mercer.

NBC Los Angeles reports: 

Ian told reporters gathered outside his Tarzana home where he and his wife live, said he was “just as shocked as anybody else,” but declined to answer questions.

“I don’t know what to say,” one family member said in an interview Thursday night from Tarzana, in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. “I’m shaking right now. He was a nice guy. He put everyone before himself. It doesn’t sound right because he wanted everyone to be happy.”

Mercer Was Sympathetic To Irish Republican Party 

Mercer had several profiles online that specifically labeled him as a conservative Republican of mixed race. Heavy reports that Mercer’s pages consisted of praise for the Irish Republican Party, which is often known for their Marxist politics. In addition to his political views, Mercer made it clear on a dating site he wasn’t a fan of organized religion.

He Frequently Spoke Of U.S. Mass Shootings 

On his personal blog, Mercer called the recent shooting deaths of two Virginia journalists “good,” and often spoke out about the gunmen involved.

From CBS News:

In one post on the blog about Vester Flanagan, the man who killed the reporter and cameraman in Virginia, Mercer apparently wrote, “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.”

His last post was about a documentary on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

A 4chan Thread Might Have Hinted at the Shooting 

Police are investigating a 4chan started by an anonymous user who gave a warning about the fatal shooting. The message board was filled with users condemning the act, but also some who included comments that gave the user tips on how to act out the shooting. Grim suggestions of targeting a girls’ school and putting victims in a corner before shooting them were given.

Authorities haven’t yet connected Mercer to the 4chan account. An archive of the thread can he found here.



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