Late Thursday evening, police named 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer as the man who shot and killed at least nine students, many of them women, at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
In photos Mercer looks to be a young man of average height and build, sporting a shaved head and in some photos is seen with a rifle barrel by his side.
An old MySpace page shows Mercer as residing in Torrance, California. On the corresponding photo page is the image of a young man with a shaven head and a rifle–now identified as Mercer. Other photos feature images of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
On another profile likely created by Mercer residing on the site Spiritual Passions, Mercer identified his ethnicity as “mixed race,” his interests as “internet, killing zombies, movies, music, reading,” and his political affiliation as “conservative Republican.” He also noted that he lived with his parents and never wanted children. His music interests were listed as “Industrial, Punk, Rock.”
One family member told the Daily Beast that Mercer’s father is white and his mother is black, but when he “came into the world, his birth father was not in the picture.”
On his apparent Spiritual Passions account, he also apparently reveals his distaste for religion. Not only does this page say he is “not religious” — but is “spiritual”– it also lays claim to the “Left-Hand Path” as a group that interested him.
The Left-Hand Path is an idea often equated with the occult and is said to manifest itself in “malicious Black magic.”
Local news quotes eyewitnesses as saying that Mercer ordered victims to identify their religion before firing; one Twitter user claiming to be a witness said that if students identified themselves as Christians, he shot them in the head.
Several reports identify the shooting victims as mostly women. Ten of the victims were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg and three other female victims were transported to PeaceHealth Hospital.
There were tales of bravery during the onslaught, too. One of the men,Chris Mintz, was shot several times. Mintz is a 10-year Army veteran and witnesses said he was trying to protect another victim when he was shot.
The young man was eventually confronted and then killed by police, ending the rampage.
A blog supposedly written by Mercer expresses fascination with other mass shooters such as Vester Flanagan, according to CBS News. “Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight,” it reads.
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