Tuesday 27 September 2016

Oregon shooting: Troubled gunman was carrying six guns and wearing body armour

Eric M. Johnson and Courtney Sherwood

Published 02/10/2015 | 19:53

Chris Harper Mercer who has been identified by US media as the gunman in Oregon shooting in which at least nine people died and dozens more were wounded
Chris Harper Mercer who has been identified by US media as the gunman in Oregon shooting in which at least nine people died and dozens more were wounded
Kristen Sterner, left, and Carrissa Welding, students of Umpqua Community College, embrace each other during a vigil for those killed at the college (AP)
A woman is comforted after a shooting at Umpqua Community College (AP)

THE Oregon gunman who carried out an execution-style massacre at a US college classroom had a cache of 13 weapons, body armor and ammunition, authorities said today, as they sought a motive for the worst US mass shooting this year.

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The disclosure of the weapons by Celinez Nunez, assistant special agent of US. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent came as fresh details emerged about the suspect in Thursday's rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, about 180 miles south of Portland.

Six of the guns, plus body armor and five magazines of ammunition, were recovered from the campus where the gunman stormed into a classroom, killing nine people before he was shot dead by police, Nunez said at a press conference.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin declined to name the gunman, saying, "Again, you will not hear anyone from this law enforcement operation use his name. I continue to believe that those media and community members who publicize his name will only glorify his horrific actions. And eventually, this will only serve to inspire future shooter."

Law enforcement sources confirmed reports identifying the suspect as Chris Harper-Mercer, 26.

The gunman shot a professor and then ordered cowering students to stand up and state their religion before he shot them one by one, according to survivors' accounts.

Another seven guns were found at the apartment he shared with his mother in nearby Winchester, about 170 miles (273 km) south of Portland, according to Nunez.

Although authorities have disclosed scant information about the gunman, they appeared to be learning more about him and why he might have opened fire.

The shooter left behind a "multipage, hated-filled" statement in the classroom, according to a tweet from an NBC reporter, citing multiple law enforcement sources who were not identified. CNN said the statement showed animosity toward blacks, citing sources.

Hanlin declined to comment when asked about the writings at a press conference.

Harper-Mercer, who identified himself on a blog post as "mixed race," enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for about a month in 2008 before being discharged for failing to meet administrative standards, military records showed.

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