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 U.S. Constitution.
“Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings,” Hanlin wrote in the letter, dated Jan. 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.
(Additional reporting by Jane Ross in Roseburg, Shelby Sebens in Portland, Curtis Skinner in San Francisco, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Jeff Mason and Robert Rampton in Washington, Dan Whitcomb, Piya Sinha-Roy and Daina Beth Solomon in Los Angeles and Katie Reilly in New York; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jeffrey Benkoe)
There’s evidence that climate activism could be swaying public opinion in the US
Climate activists walked out of classrooms and workplaces in more than 150 countries on Friday, Sept. 20 to demand stronger action on climate change. Mass mobilizations like this have become increasingly common in recent years.
I’m a scholar of environmental communication who examines how people become engaged with solving dilemmas such as climate change, and how activism motivates others to take action. A new study I worked on suggests that large rallies, such as this youth-led Climate Strike, could be influencing public opinion.
‘I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA’: See the most memorable signs from the global climate strike
"Why should we go to class if you won't listen to the educated?" one homemade sign asked.
With millions marching to demand bold climate action in more than 150 countries around the world on Friday, a number of sentiments expressed on homemade signs and through other demonstrations captured the world's attention.
An estimated 400,000 people attended strikes across Australia to start off the day of action. The Australian Conservation Foundation shared a video of some of the young people, including one marcher who proclaimed, "You'll die of old age, we'll die of climate change," addressing the world leaders who climate scientists say are not working nearly fast enough to end fossil fuel extraction and the resulting carbon emissions which are causing global warming, rising sea levels, droughts, and other extreme weather events.
Trump felt free to ask for Ukraine election interference after Mueller let him off the hook: Wired reporter Garrett Graff
On CNN's "New Day Weekend," author and commentator Garrett Graff noted that President Donald Trump's attempt to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden came right after former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in 2016 ended — and suggested the two were related.
"You know, Garrett, there may be some people thinking 'Gosh, we just got out of the whole scenario with the Mueller report. Now we have this again,'" said anchor Christi Paul. "Do you get a sense that there are people looking at this saying 'I think I have confidence in the 2020 election?'"