ROSEBURG, Ore. (CBS Seattle/AP) — Tales of heroism are emerging from the deadly shooting that took place at Umpqua Community College Thursday.
The family of Army veteran Chris Mintz told CBS News he rushed the gunman in an effort to protect his classmates. Mintz was shot multiple times.
“Tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in, gets shot three times, hits the floor, looks up at the gunman and says, ‘It’s my son’s birthday today.’ Gets shot two more times,” Wanta Mintz, his aunt, said.
Chris Mintz spent most of Thursday in surgery.
“His vital signs are okay. He’s going to have to learn to walk again, but he walked away with his life and that’s more than so many other people did,” Ariana Earnhardt, Mintz’s cousin, told CBS News.
A gunman killed nine people after opening fire inside a classroom at the community college. CBS News identified the shooter as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. He was killed in a shootout with officers.
Kortney Moore told The News-Review that she was in Snyder Hall when her teacher got shot in the head. The 18-year-old student said the gunman told people to get down on the ground. He then started to ask people to stand up to state their religion and then started shooting, according to Moore. She said she was lying on the ground with people who were shot.
The father of a survivor told CNN the gunman told students, “If you’re a Christian, stand up … you’re going to see God in just about one second.”
Father of survivor: shooter said "if you’re a Christian, stand-up...you’re going to see God in just about one second” then shot &killed them—
Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 02, 2015
Mercer lived in an apartment complex in nearby Winchester, where investigators found a number of firearms, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Friday. Details about the number and type of guns would be released later, he said.
A neighbor, Bronte Harte, told The Associated Press that Mercer “seemed really unfriendly” and would “sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light.”
Harte said a woman she believed to be Mercer’s mother also lived upstairs and was “crying her eyes out” Thursday.
Social profiles linked to Mercer suggested he was fascinated by the IRA, frustrated by traditional organized religion and tracked other mass shootings.
There didn’t seem to be many recent connections on the social media sites linked to Mercer, with his MySpace page just showing two friends.
In addition to the MySpace page, Mercer appeared to have at least one online dating profile, a torrents streaming account and a blog.
On a torrents streaming site and blog that appeared to belong to Mercer, posts referenced multiple shootings and downloads included several horror films and a documentary on a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A blog post urged readers to watch the online footage of Vester Flanagan shooting two former colleagues on live TV in Virginia, while another lamented materialism as preventing spiritual development.
A MySpace page that appeared to belong to Mercer included several photos and graphics of the Irish Republican Army as well as a picture of Mercer holding a rifle.
Mercer previously lived in the Los Angeles-area suburb of Torrance with his mother. Neighbors there recalled him as uncommunicative.
His father, Ian Mercer, said late Thursday that it’s been a “devastating day” for him and his family, and he has been talking to police and the FBI about the shooting. He spoke to KABC-TV and several other media outlets gathered outside his house in Tarzana, California.
Step-sister Carmen Nesnick said the shooting didn’t make sense.
“All he ever did was put everyone before himself, he wanted everyone to be happy,” she told KCBS-TV.
Hundreds went to a candlelight vigil Thursday night, with many raising candles as the hymn “Amazing Grace” was played.
Sam Sherman, a former student, said the school helped broaden his opportunities.
“That’s all I could think about today. There’s 10, 9 kids who won’t get those doors opened,” he said.
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