ROSEBURG—A gunman went on a shooting rampage at a college in the US state of Oregon on Thursday, killing 10 people and wounding seven before he died in a shootout with police.
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.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said 10 people were killed and seven were injured, several critically.
Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic as the tragedy unfolded at the school located in a picturesque region of Oregon.
One man whose daughter was wounded told CNN that the gunman, who did not attend the school, ordered students to stand up if they were Christian and then shot them.
“They would stand up and he said ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second’,” Stacy Boylan told CNN, relaying his daughter Ana’s account.
He said his daughter, who survived by playing dead, told him the shooter burst into the classroom and first shot the professor point blank.
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 such killings.
“Somehow this has become routine,” said the president. “We’ve become numb to this.”
“We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months,” he added.
“It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.”
Cassandra Welding, a student at Umpqua, said she heard 35 to 40 shots coming from an adjacent classroom and saw a fellow student get shot as she opened the door to check on the noise.
“Then we locked the doors, turned off the lights and ... we were all pretty much in panic mode and called 911 (emergency services) and our parents and (said) ‘I love yous’ because we didn’t know what would happen, if those were our last words.”
Hanlin said police were alerted to the shooting at 10:38 am and rushed to the site where two officers cornered the gunman and exchanged fire with him. He was later confirmed dead.
Authorities said investigators were examining social media postings thought to belong to the shooter. Several reports said he may have shared his intentions online beforehand.