Gunman opens fire at Oregon College; at least 9 killed

Federal Officials: Gunman Dead in Ore Shooting

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) -- A gunman opened fire inside a classroom at a rural Oregon community college Thursday, killing at least nine people before dying in a shootout with police, authorities said. One survivor said he demanded his victims state their religion before he started shooting.

The attack shattered the first week of classes at Umpqua Community College in the small timber town of Roseburg, about 180 miles south of Portland.

The killer was identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, according to a government official who was not authorized to speak publicly and provided the name on condition of anonymity. Authorities shed no light on his motive and said they were investigating.

RELATED:A look at deadliest shootings on or near US college campuses

Hannah Miles, a 19-year-old freshman, was in her writing class when her teacher got a call from security saying the school was in lockdown. She heard gunshots from a neighboring classroom.

Huddled together in the locked classroom, the students and teacher heard a footsteps outside and a man's voice call out to them, "Come on out, come on out," Miles said. They remained quiet and didn't open the door.

Police soon arrived, Miles said, and after students were convinced that it was indeed officers, they opened the door.

"It was like a huge burden had been lifted," she said.

Distressed parents rushed to the county fairgrounds, where students were being taken by bus to reunite with families.

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

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Gunman opens fire at Oregon College; at least 9 killed

Chris Harper-Mercer, 26

Photo via Myspace 

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"I don't know where she is. I don't know if she's wounded. I have no idea where she's at," Chandler said.

Carnes' best friend told Chandler that her daughter had been flown by helicopter to a hospital, but she had not been able to find her at area medical centers.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said 10 people were dead and seven wounded after the attack. An FBI spokeswoman said the gunman was included in that number.

Earlier, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said 13 people had been killed. It was unclear what led to the discrepancy.

"It's been a terrible day," a grim-faced Hanlin said. "Certainly this is a huge shock to our community."

Hours after the attack, a visibly angry President Barack Obama spoke to reporters at the White House, saying the U.S. is becoming numb to mass shootings and that the shooters have "sickness" in their minds.

Repeating his support for tighter gun-control measures, the president said thoughts and prayers are no longer enough in such situations because they do nothing to stop similar attacks from happening a few weeks or months later. He challenged voters wanting to confront the problem to vote for elected officials who will act.

Police began receiving calls about a campus shooting at 10:38 a.m. The school has a single unarmed security guard.

Kortney Moore, 18, said she was in a writing class when a shot came through the window and hit the teacher in the head.

WATCH: Oregon attorney general gives more details on the alleged shooter:

Oregon Governor Says Umpqua Shooter Was A 20-Year-Old Male

The gunman then entered the Snyder Hall classroom and told people to get on the floor, she told the Roseburg News-Review newspaper. He told people to stand up and state their religion before opening fire.

Next door, students heard a loud thud and then a volley of gunfire, Brady Winder, 23, told the newspaper.

Students scrambled "like ants, people screaming, 'Get out!'" Winder said. He said one woman swam across a creek to get away.

The sheriff said officers had a shootout with the gunman, but it was not clear if he was killed by authorities or whether he took his own life.

The gunfire sparked panic as students ran for safety and police and ambulances rushed to the scene.

Lorie Andrews, who lives across the street from the campus, heard what sounded like fireworks and then saw police cruisers streaming in. She spoke with students as they left.

"One girl came out wrapped in a blanket with blood on her," she said.

Some students were in tears as they left. Police lined up students in a parking lot with their hands over their heads and searched them before they were bused with faculty to the nearby county fairgrounds, where counselors were available and some parents waited for their children.

Officials at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Oregon, said four of the wounded were hospitalized there and were expected to survive. Three other patients were transferred to a hospital in Springfield.

Roseburg is no stranger to school gun violence. A freshman at the local high school shot and wounded a fellow student in 2006.

See social reactions to the shooting -- WARNING: Some may contain strong language:

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Gunman opens fire at Oregon College; at least 9 killed
Terrible news coming out of Roseburg. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the community.
On a plane and learning about the heinous shooting in Oregon. A community’s heart has been tested but will not be broken. #UCCShooting
Was boarding a plane as I learned about the horrific shooting in Oregon. Thoughts and prayers are w/the Roseburg community. #UCCShooting
My thoughts are with the families and victims of today's tragedy.
Prayers for those in Oregon dealing w/ yet another mass shooting... 😔
My heart is with those who lost so much today in Oregon. -O’M
Another senseless tragedy with more innocent people killed. Our hearts go out to the families. -B
My heart goes out to all affected by #Umpqua shooting. How many gunshots before legislators start listening? #GunReform #UCCShooting
Praying for those affected by the shooting at Umpqua community college today. I'll be keeping you all in my thoughts.
Can't wrap my head around the fact that one of my best friends since birth was the only person in the whole class not shot.
I am completely devastated! My heart goes out to my hometown and college #UmpquaCommunityCollege Pray for #Roseburg! https://t.co/SSml4AjK2I
Another tragic shooting. This one hits home being from Roseburg. Spent a lot of time on UCC campus as a kid. 🙏 https://t.co/9NerF6sCPA
So stunned & angry about yet another mass shooting, this time on a college campus in Oregon. We pray for the victims & their families.
Stunned by reports of a shooting in my home state of OR. My thoughts & prayers are w/ UCC as we struggle to cope w/ this tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of today's tragic shooting in Roseburg: https://t.co/O4lF8YcnVy
Sick to my stomach man. My next class was at snyder, can't even process all this.
#UCCShooting leaves us w/ a profound sense of loss. We should work in whatever ways we can to prevent these acts of violence in the future
Active shooter reported at Umpqua Community College. One person reported shot.
Students are running everywhere. Holy God.
Oregon shooter brought down. Multiple rescue units requested. First reports 20 victims.
My heart is broken. 💔 praying for our little community today. 🙏🏼
If something happens to my mom rn at ucc I will go to prison
My mom works at UCC and my brother goes to school there. This is so fucking scary
Literally bawling my eyes out & can't calm down
I feel so sick & can't stop shaking. This is unreal
My grandparents, aunt and uncle live across the street from UCC. This is unreal.
Scariest thing I've ever experienced...
I was getting ready to get out of my car to go to class and my papa stopped me and told me to get the f*ck off campus
Heartbroken. Again. #prayersforUmpqua
Authorities check bags as students and staff are moved off campus at Umpqua Community College after shooting report. https://t.co/BvvHh0UYqN
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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."

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's unclear if the messages are tied to the shooting because of the largely anonymous nature of the site.

Roseburg is in Douglas County, a politically conservative region west of the Cascade Range where people like to hunt and fish and pursue other outdoor activities. Many of the students in local school district go on to attend the college of 3,000 students.

"We are a small, tight community, and there is no doubt that we will have staff and students that have family and friends impacted by this event," Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Gerry Washburn said.

Former UCC President Joe Olson, who retired in June after four years, said the school had no formal security staff, just one officer on a shift.

One of the biggest debates on campus last year was whether to post armed security officers on campus to respond to a shooting.

"I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this," he said.

There were no immediate plans to upgrade security on the campus in light of the shooting, Cavin said.

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Associated Press writers Steven Dubois in Portland, Oregon; Martha Mendoza in Sana Cruz, California; and Gene Johnson and Donna Blankinship in Seattle contributed to this report. Brian Melley contributed writing from Los Angeles.

Witness Describes Mass Shooting At Oregon's Umpqua Community College:

Witness Describes Mass Shooting At Oregon's Umpqua Community College

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