Media outlets are quickly uncovering details about Chris Harper Mercer, 26, identified last night as the shooter who killed ten people and injured seven at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Thursday. His neighbors describe him as an isolated, cranky weirdo in camo pants who frequently yelled at them, and his social media and dating profiles indicate he hated organized religion.
Mercer is said to have demanded to know people’s religions before shooting them. The father of Anastasia Boylan, a student who was shot in the back in the attack, said Mercer singled out Christians, CNN reports:
Before going into spinal surgery, Anastasia Boylan told her father the gunman entered her classroom firing.
“I’ve been waiting to do this for years,” the gunman told the professor teaching the class. He shot him point blank, Boylan recounted.
Others were hit too, she told her family.
Everyone in the classroom dropped to the ground.
The gunman, while reloading his handgun, ordered the students to stand up and asked if they were Christians, Boylan told her family.
“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,’” Boylan’‘s father, Stacy, told CNN, relaying her account.
“And then he shot and killed them.”
Boylan told her family that she survived by playing dead after Mercer called to her, “Hey you, blond woman,” as she lay on the ground bleeding.
The New York Times says officers with the Department of Homeland Security arrived Thursday night at the apartment complex near the school where Mercer reportedly lived with his mother.
Mercer’s mother, Laurel Harper, is described as “fiercely protective” of him. The two previously lived in Torrance, California, where neighbors remembered him as an anxious, shy, socially maladjusted teenager, whose mother once went door to door campaigning to get rid of roaches in the apartment complex, which she said were bothering her son. A neighbor recalls her saying, “‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him.”
By the time the pair arrived in Roseburg, neighbors there described Mercer more or less, as an asshole:
Bronte Hart, a neighbor who said she lived in an apartment below Mr. Mercer’s, described a more assertive young man than his former neighbors in California did. Far from avoiding social interaction, she said, he frequently shouted at her for smoking on her balcony.
“He yelled at us, me and my husband,” said Ms. Hart, who lives in the building with her husband and father. “He was not a friendly type of guy. He did not want anything to do with anyone.”
The Times also found Mercer’s social media profiles showed an obsession with the IRA. A dormant-looking dating profile under the name “IronCross45” is still up for Mercer on a website called Spiritual Passions; he describes himself as a conservative introvert Republican, who doesn’t like organized religion and loves industrial music. He said he was looking for seemingly anybody:
Mercer’s father, Ian Mercer, who lives in California, told KTLA he’s “shocked” by the crime, adding, “It’s been a devastating day.”
According to the Times, federal investigators are looking at a 4Chan thread which may have been written by Mercer. That still hasn’t been confirmed.
As authorities continue investigating, a war has broken out on a new Wikipedia page for the shooting, which someone tried repeatedly to edit last night to say that the school is a “gun-free zone.” An Oregon court ruled in 2011 that students and faculty with concealed carry permits could bring guns on community college campuses. A veteran and UCC student named John Parker Jr. gave an interview to MSNBC in which he said he was on campus at the time of the shooting carrying a concealed handgun, and implied other students with him were armed as well.
Update, 11:00 a.m.:
Time also notes that Mercer may be linked to a blog on the site Kickass Torrents, posting under the name Lithium_Love. The blog is now deleted, but Time reports that it mused on Vester Flanagan, who murdered two WDBJ reporters on camera, and uploaded a BBC documentary about the Sandy Hook school shootings:
“On an interesting note, 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,” the post reads. “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 you’re in the limelight.”
The latest activity on the torrent account was a video uploaded on Tuesday, a BBC documentary about the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 26 people — most of them children under the age of 10 — lost their lives.
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Chris Harper Mercer. Photo via MySpace