Reports: Oregon Shooter Identified As Chris Harper Mercer
CBS News says law enforcement officials have confirmed the shooter's identity
The gunman who authorities say killed nine people at a community college in Oregon on Thursday has been identified by multiple media outlets as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer.
Law enforcement sources reportedly told several news outlets, including CBS News and NBC News, that Harper Mercer is the man who opened fire at Umpqua Community College Thursday morning, killing nine and injuring several others.
An online search shows that Mercer was on several dating websites as well as a website called “Morgue Pen Pals.” Calls to numbers believed to belong to Mercer’s relatives were not answered.
Mercer appeared to have had an interest in the Irish Republican Army, an Irish-Catholic paramilitary group. A MySpace page that appeared to have belonged to Mercer featured pictures and a video glorifying the organization.
Before Mercer was identified, several reports had linked the shooter to the notorious Internet forum 4chan. It’s not clear whether Mercer was a 4chan user, however, and members of the forum had launched at least one trolling campaign related to the shooting in which they framed another person as the gunman.
At a press conference Thursday night, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin refused to name the shooter. “I will not give him the credit he probably sought before this horrific and cowardly act…but you will never hear me mention his name.”
The sheriff encouraged the media to not use the killer’s name, and asked that the focus remain on the victims, whom he said will not be identified until Friday at the earliest.
Hanlin credited “two heroic officers” with entering the building where the shooting took place and killing the shooter within minutes of the first gunshots being fired.
Law enforcement officials—including officials from the Department of Homeland Security—have reportedly set up a perimeter around an apartment believed to have belonged to Mercer. The apartment is just miles from the community college where Mercer allegedly committed the deadly shooting. His connection to the college is still unclear.
Witnesses told CNN that they heard what sounded like someone slamming books on a table coming from inside the building at the college where the shooting took place. One witness heard someone say “shots fired,” at which point an onslaught of gunfire was heard coming from inside the building.
How the gunman obtained the weapons used in the attack is unclear. Previous reports that the gunman was only 20 years old, and not legally permitted to purchase firearms in Oregon, appear to be false.