'We began to run': Students describe horror of shooting

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Witness Describes Oregon Shooting Scene


ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) -- Armed with multiple guns, a 26-year-old man walked into a morning writing class at a community college in this rural Oregon town and opened fire, hitting some students with multiple gunshots. One witness said the attacker demanded to know students' religion before shooting them.

Students in a classroom next door heard several shots, one right after the next, and their teacher told them to leave.

"We began to run," student Hannah Miles said. "A lot of my classmates were going every which way. We started to run to the center of campus. And I turned around, and I saw students pouring out of the building."

At least nine people were killed and seven others wounded Thursday, the fourth day of classes at Umpqua Community College in this former timber town 180 miles south of Portland. The worst mass shooting in recent Oregon history was raising questions about security at the college with about 3,000 students.

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'We began to run': Students describe horror of shooting
People embrace during a prayer vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Ore. The vigil was held in honor of the victims of the fatal shooting at Umpqua Community College on Thursday. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People walk on a path at Umpqua Community College, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. The campus reopened on a limited basis for faculty and students for the first time since armed suspect Chris Harper-Mercer killed multiple people and wounded several others on Thursday before taking his own life at Snyder Hall. (AP Photo/John Locher)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: A sign at the edge of campus welcomes students and staff back to Umpqua Community College on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched around large areas of the school, the campus was open to staff and students today for the first time since last Thursday when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. Classes are not scheduled to resume until next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Faculty members embrace as they are allowed to return to Umpqua Community College Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. The campus reopened to faculty for the first time since Oct. 1, when armed suspect Chris Harper-Mercer killed multiple people and wounded several others before taking his own life at Snyder Hall. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Ethan Hurley, 7, top right, prays with a church group at a makeshift memorial near Snyder Hall at Umpqua Community College, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed suspect Chris Harper-Mercer on Thursday killed multiple people and wounded several others before taking his own life at Snyder Hall. (AP Photo/John Locher)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 04: Families Roseburg's Green Community Church and Lutheran Church Charities pause to pray at a memorial in front of Snyder Hall on the campus of Umpqua Community College on October 4, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Chris Harper Mercer, 26, went on a shooting rampage October 1 at the campus, killing nine people and wounding another nine before killing himself, according to published reports. Lacey says she believes she survived the shooting by playing dead next to the bleeding body of fellow student Treven Anspach, who died in the shooting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WINSTON, OR - OCTOBER 03: Residents of Douglas County attend a prayer service and candlelight vigil at River Bend Park to remember the victims of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in nearby Roseburg on October 3, 2015 in Winston, Oregon. On Thursday 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage at the college killing nine people and wounding another nine before killing himself. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: Umpqua Community College shooting survivor Mathew Downing (C) is greeted as he arrives on campus near Snyder Hall on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Downing was reported to have been given a package by gunman Chris Harper-Mercer and told he was the 'lucky one' who would survive to deliver the package to authorities. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched around large areas of the school, the campus was open to staff and students today for the first time since last Thursday when 26-year-old Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage in Snyder Hall killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. Classes are not scheduled to resume until next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Ashley Katter, left, embraces Haley Lamphere while holding Katter's niece Ruby Abrahamson during a prayer vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Ore. The vigil was held in honor of the victims of the fatal shooting at Umpqua Community College on Thursday. (AP Photo/John Locher)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: People hold a prayer circle outside Snyder Hall on the campus of Umpqua Community College on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched around large areas of the school, the campus was open to staff and students today for the first time since last Thursday when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage in Snyder Hall killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. Classes are not scheduled to resume until next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: Students Sharon Kirkham (L) and Kristapher Yates visit a memorial dedicated to the slain students on the campus of Umpqua Community College on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched around large areas of the school, the campus was open to staff and students today for the first time since last Thursday when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. Classes are not scheduled to resume until next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: Police stand guard outside Snyder Hall on the campus of Umpqua Community College on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched around large areas of the school, the campus was open to staff and students today for the first time since last Thursday when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage in Snyder Hall killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. Classes are not scheduled to resume until next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Kyle Workman, second from right, holds his daughter Samantha Workman while sitting beside his wife Christina Workman who is holding their daughter Pepper Workman during a prayer vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Ore. The vigil was held in honor of the victims of the fatal shooting at Umpqua Community College on Thursday. (AP Photo/John Locher)
WINSTON, ORE. -- SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2015: Led by Toni New, a Chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, not pictured, friends of the late Rebecka Ann Carnes, an Umpqua Community College mass shootings victim, embrace one another in prayer during a memorial service called 'Prayers for Roseburg,' at Riverbend Park in Winston, Ore., on Oct. 3, 2015. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: A faculty member walks past a privacy fence that surrounds Snyder Hall on the campus of Umpqua Community College as it reopens on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched aroud large areas of the school, the campus was opened to staff and faculty today for the first time since October 1, when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage at Snyder, killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. The campus is scheduled to open to students in the afternoon and classes are scheduled to resume next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: Police officers remove a barricade on the campus of Umpqua Community College as it reopens on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. The campus was opened to staff and faculty today for the first time since October 1, when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. The campus is scheduled to open to students in the afternoon and classes are scheduled to resume next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: Staff members embrace as they arrive on the campus of Umpqua Community College as it reopens on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched aroud large areas of the school, the campus was opened to staff and faculty today for the first time since October 1, when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. The campus is scheduled to open to students in the afternoon and classes are scheduled to resume next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: A woman navigates crime scene tape as she holds flowers on the campus of Umpqua Community College as it reopens on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched aroud large areas of the school, the campus was opened to staff and faculty today for the first time since October 1, when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. The campus is scheduled to open to students in the afternoon and classes are scheduled to resume next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: Staff members embrace as they arrive on the campus of Umpqua Community College as it reopens on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Despite crime scene tape still being stretched aroud large areas of the school, the campus was opened to staff and faculty today for the first time since October 1, when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. The campus is scheduled to open to students in the afternoon and classes are scheduled to resume next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Dr. Christine Seals speaks during a news conference at Umpqua Community College Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. The campus reopened on a limited basis for faculty and students for the first time since armed suspect Chris Harper-Mercer killed multiple people and wounded several others on Thursday before taking his own life at Snyder Hall. (AP Photo/John Locher)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 05: Police officers remove crime scene tape on the campus of Umpqua Community College as it reopens on October 5, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. The campus was opened to staff and faculty today for the first time since October 1, when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer went on a shooting rampage killing nine people and wounding another nine before he was killed. The campus is scheduled to open to students in the afternoon and classes are scheduled to resume next week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Authorities block a road leading to the Umpqua Community College Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed with multiple guns, Chris Harper Mercer, 26, walked in a classroom at the community college, Thursday, and opened fire, killing several and wounding several others. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Greg Kennerly, left, and Oregon State Trooper Tom Willis, stand guard outside the apartment building, Friday Oct. 2 2015, where alleged Umpqua Community College gunman Chris Harper Mercer lived, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed with multiple guns, Harper, 26, walked in a writing class at the community college, Thursday, and opened fire, killing several and wounding several others. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Law enforcement officers investigate a home in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. A gunman opened fire inside a classroom at Umpqua Community College before dying in a shootout with police. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
A building on the Umpqua Community College campus is seen on a hill as birds fly over the North Umpqua River Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed with multiple guns, Chris Harper Mercer, 26, walked in a classroom at the community college, Thursday, and opened fire, killing several and wounding several others. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A sign hangs on a fence near the road leading to the Umpqua Community College campus Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed with multiple guns, Chris Harper Mercer, 26, walked into a classroom at the community college, Thursday, and opened fire, killing multiple people and wounding several others. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Authorities block a road leading to the Umpqua Community College Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed with multiple guns, Chris Harper Mercer, 26, walked in a classroom at the community college, Thursday, and opened fire, killing several and wounding several others. (AP Photo/John Locher)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 02: Media vehicles line the road near Umpqua Community College on October 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Yesterday 10 people were killed and another seven were wounded on the campus when 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 02: Emergency workers block access to Umpqua Community College on October 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Yesterday 10 people were killed and another seven were wounded on the campus when 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 02: Crime scene tape limits access to Umpqua Community College on October 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Yesterday 10 people were killed and seven were wounded on the campus when 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
TARZANA, CA OCTOBER 2: LAPD outside the home of Ian Harper Friday morning October 2, 2015 in Tarzana. Harper is the father of Oregon shooting suspect, Chris Harper Mercer. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
TARZANA, CA OCTOBER 2: Media set up outside the home of Ian Harper Friday morning October 2, 2015 in Tarzana. Harper is the father of Oregon shooting suspect, Chris Harper Mercer. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 02: A media vehicle sits under a sign in a hotel parking lot which advertises Umpqua Community College on October 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Yesterday 10 people were killed and another seven were wounded on the campus when 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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"I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this," former college president Joe Olson said.

The killer was identified as Chris Harper-Mercer, according to a government official who was not authorized to speak publicly and provided the name on condition of anonymity. Mercer died after a shootout with police, who were not saying whether they knew of any motive.

Federal investigators recovered six weapons at the college and seven at Mercer's nearby apartment. All of the weapons were purchased legally, seven of them by the shooter or his family members in the last three years, Celinez Nunez, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assistant special agent in charge, said at a news conference Friday.

Investigators also found a flak jacket next to a rifle at the school, which contained steel plates, she said.

Mercer is not believed to have a criminal history. Investigators believe he may have been a student at the college because a receipt found at the scene showed he purchased textbooks from the campus bookstore two days before the shooting, the ATF said.

The Army said Harper-Mercer flunked out of basic training in 2008 in South Carolina.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Ben Garrett said Harper-Mercer was in the Army for a little over a month at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, but was discharged for failing to meet the minimum standards.

See images from the vigils:

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Oregon school shooting vigils, Umpqua Community College
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'We began to run': Students describe horror of shooting
Balloons, flowers and notes of community support rest along a fence near Umpqua Community College, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Monday was the first day back to campus for students since the deadliest shooting in state history on Oct. 1. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP, Pool)
Cards hang at Umpqua Community College, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Monday was the first day back to campus for students since the deadliest shooting in state history on Oct. 1. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP, Pool)
A black ribbon is seen painted on the field of Autzen Stadium commemorating the victims of the campus shooting at Umpqua Community College before an NCAA college football game between Washington State and Oregon Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Charley Thompson, left, and his wife Rachel Thompson embrace as they place flowers at a makeshift memorial near the road leading to Umpqua Community College, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed with multiple guns, Chris Harper Mercer walked in a classroom at the community college, Thursday, and opened fire, killing several and wounding several others. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Brittany Gaddis prays during a prayer vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Ore. The vigil was held in honor of the victims of the fatal shooting at Umpqua Community College on Thursday. (AP Photo/John Locher)
ROSE BURG, OR - OCTOBER 09: A general view of a makeshift memorial including flowers and drawings outside Snyder Hall on the Umpqua Community College Campus on October 9, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Snyder Hall is where a gunman killed eight students and a writing teacher and injured nine others in a campus shooting on October 1, 2015. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
ROSE BURG, OR - OCTOBER 09: A close up of hearts with the names of the victims are part of a makeshift memorial near the campus of Umpqua Community College Campus on October 9, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. A gunman killed eight students and a writing teacher and injured nine others in a campus there in a shooting on October 1, 2015. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
ROSE BURG, OR - OCTOBER 09: A general view of a makeshift memorial and black plastic tarp outside Snyder Hall on the Umpqua Community College Campus on October 9, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Snyder Hall is where a gunman killed eight students and a writing teacher and injured nine others in a campus shooting on October 1, 2015. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
ROSE BURG, OR - OCTOBER 09: A general view of a makeshift memorial near the campus of Umpqua Community College Campus on October 9, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. A gunman killed eight students and a writing teacher and injured nine others in a campus there in a shooting on October 1, 2015. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
ROSE BURG, OR - OCTOBER 09: Bayleigh Case (4) of Roseburg look at the flowers and balloons at a makeshift memorial near the campus of Umpqua Community College Campus on October 9, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. A gunman killed eight students and a writing teacher and injured nine others in a campus there in a shooting on October 1, 2015. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Kristen Sterner, left, and Carrissa Welding, both students of Umpqua Community College, embrace each other during a candle light vigil for those killed during a fatal shooting at the college, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Hundreds of people gather for a vigil in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015, for ten people killed and seven others wounded in a shooting at a community college in the western US state of Oregon. The 26-year-old gunman, identified by US media as Chris Harper Mercer, was killed following a shootout with police. A visibly angry President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea for gun control in the wake of the shooting, blasting Congress for its failure to act in the face of 'routine' mass killings. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman cries while holding her daughter during a vigil in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015, for ten people killed and seven others wounded in a shooting at a community college in the western US state of Oregon. The shooter -- identified by US media as Chris Harper Mercer, 26 -- opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College in rural Roseburg, then moved to other rooms methodically gunning down his victims, witnesses said. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
A girl prays during a vigil in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015, for ten people killed and seven others wounded in a shooting at a community college in the western US state of Oregon. The 26-year-old gunman, identified by US media as Chris Harper Mercer, was killed following a shootout with police. A visibly angry President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea for gun control in the wake of the shooting, blasting Congress for its failure to act in the face of 'routine' mass killings. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Diana Nicolay, a former employee of Umpqua Community College, wears a school sweatshirt during a candlelight vigil for those killed during a fatal shooting at the school Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Meriah Calvert, left, of Roseburg, Ore., and an unidentified woman pray by candles spelling out the initials for Umpqua Community College after a candlelight vigil Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. A man opened fire at the school before dying in a shootout with police. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A young woman reacts during a vigil in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015, for ten people killed and seven others wounded in a shooting at a community college in the western US state of Oregon. The shooter -- identified by US media as Chris Harper Mercer, 26 -- opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College in rural Roseburg, then moved to other rooms methodically gunning down his victims, witnesses said. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold candles during a vigil in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015, for ten people killed and seven others wounded in a shooting at a community college in the western US state of Oregon. The shooter -- identified by US media as Chris Harper Mercer, 26 -- opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College in rural Roseburg, then moved to other rooms methodically gunning down his victims, witnesses said. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Mourners react during a vigil in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015, for ten people killed and seven others wounded in a shooting at a community college in the western US state of Oregon. The 26-year-old gunman, identified by US media as Chris Harper Mercer, was killed following a shootout with police. A visibly angry President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea for gun control in the wake of the shooting, blasting Congress for its failure to act in the face of 'routine' mass killings. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
ROSEBURG, OREGON - OCTOBER 1: Governor Kate Brown of Oregon attends at a candlelight vigil for the victims of a shooting at Umpqua Community College October 1, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. According to reports, 10 were killed and 20 injured when a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. (Photo by Michael Lloyd/Getty Images)
Umpqua Community College student Nichole Zamarripa, right, is consoled during a candlelight vigil for those killed during a shooting at the school, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Mourners hold up candles during a candlelight vigil at Stewart Park, in Roseburg, Ore., for those killed during a fatal shooting at nearby Umpqua Community College, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
A girl who allegedly had multiple family members involved in a shooting at her college campus, reacts during a vigil in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1, 2015, for ten people have been confirmed killed and seven others wounded in a shooting at a community college in the western US state of Oregon, a local official said. The 26-year-old gunman, identified by US media as Chris Harper Mercer, was killed following a shootout with police. A visibly angry President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea for gun control in the wake of the shooting, blasting Congress for its failure to act in the face of 'routine' mass killings. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Kevin Crawford embraces his wife, Pam, during a candle light vigil for those killed during a shooting at Umpqua Community College, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Candles spelling UCC for Umpqua Community College, are displayed at a candlelight vigil for those killed during a fatal shooting at the school, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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Garrett did not say which standards Harper-Mercer failed to meet. Generally, the Army requires recruits to pass physical fitness tests and to be generally in good physical and mental health. Recruits must also pass a multiple-choice test covering science, math, reading comprehension and other topics.

He lived in an apartment complex in nearby Winchester. 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.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Thursday that he was not going to say the shooter's name because that's what he would have wanted.

"I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act," said a visibly angry Hanlin.

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.

Roseburg is in Douglas County, a politically conservative region west of the Cascade Range where people like to hunt and fish. But it's no stranger to school gun violence. A freshman at the local high school shot and wounded a fellow student in 2006.

After Thursday's shooting, anguished parents and other relatives rushed to surviving students.

Jessica Chandler was desperately seeking information about her 18-year-old daughter, Rebecka Carnes.

"I don't know where she is. I don't know if she's wounded," Chandler said.

Carnes' best friend told Chandler that her daughter had been flown by helicopter to a hospital.

Students described utter fear and panic after hearing the shots.

Sarah Cobb, 17, was in a next-door classroom. She heard a shot. A teacher said they needed to get out, and the class ran out the door as she heard two more shots.

"I was freaking out. I didn't know what to think, what to do," she said.

Before the Roseburg shooting, a posting on the message-board site 4chan included a photo of a crudely drawn frog used regularly in Internet memes with a gun and warned other users not to go to school Thursday in the Northwest.

The messages that followed spoke of mass shootings, with some egging on and even offering tips to the original poster. It was unclear if the messages were tied to the shooting because of the largely anonymous nature of the site.

Investigators went door to door in the neighborhoods near the college and the shooter's apartment seeking clues, Hanlin said Friday.

The sheriff has been vocal in opposing state and federal gun-control legislation. In 2013, Hanlin sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after the shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, declaring that he and his deputies would refuse to enforce new gun-control restrictions "offending the constitutional rights of my citizens."

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