Tragedy in Oregon


Linus Park, Assistant News Editor

In Roseburg, Oregon, after a 911 call at 10:38 A.M., police officers and a state trooper arrived at the scene of the shooting and engaged in a series of firefights with the school shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer. According to a timeline released by investigators, the gunfire was exchanged at 10:46 A.M and following the shooting were reports of the “suspect down.” The state medical examiner later declared the cause of the gunman’s death was suicide.

The school, Umpqua Community College, accommodates for 13,600 students with an average age of 38 during the 2013-2014 school year. Of the nine victims, ages varied from 18 all the way to 67. Bonnie Schaan, mother of Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, a victim of the school shooting, claimed that one of the students in the class was given an envelope from the gunman that she was the lucky student to survive and was offered the opportunity to stand in the corner. Unlike the student, Fitzgerald was shot in her lung after not answering the shooter’s question to what religion she practiced. However, she survived by “playing dead” and remains in critical condition.

Ian Mercer, the father of the school shooter, expressed his sorrow for the affected families. Mercer explained that he was devastated by the news and wished that he and all of the families “could get through this.” According to an interview with CNN, Ian Mercer said that he was not aware of the fact that his son possessed any firearms. “I had no idea he had any guns […] And I’m a great believer you don’t buy guns, don’t buy guns, you don’t buy guns.” Furthermore, Mercer shared in the interview about the good relationship he had with his son, but would not comment on whether he had an emotional or mental issue.

According to Rita Cavin, the interim president of the school, “Harper-Mercer was a student at Umpqua and was enrolled in English and theater classes.” The initial shooting was said to take place in the English class.

Private investigators also found 14 firearms connected to the shooter. Such weaponry included five pistols and one rifle at the college, two pistols, four rifles, and a shotgun at his apartment, and another handgun discovered later in the gunman’s residence. All of the weapons were legally obtained either through the shooter himself or through his family members through connections with a federally licensed firearms dealer.

In response to the tragic event, President Barack Obama gave an “impassioned plea for gun control in the wake of the shooting,” criticizing Congress for its failure to act and perform against the “routine” of mass killings. Therefore, the debate over gun rights continues in American society and events such as the Oregon School shooting further question the pros and cons of citizens possessing firearms.