Nine people at a community college in Roseburg, Ore., were killed last Thursday when a gunman opened fire in the classroom of a writing course in which he was enrolled.
During a shootout with police at Umpqua Community College, the gunman, 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer, a student at the college, also killed himself.
Victims of the shooting included Umpqua Community College Professor Lawrence Levine, 67; Kim Dietz, 59; Serena Dawn Moore, 44; Jason Johnson, 34; Treven Anspach, 20; Lucero Alcaraz, 19; Lucas Eibel, 18; Quinn Cooper, 18; and Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18.
Nine others were injured during the attack last Thursday morning.
The shooter apparently owned 14 guns, all purchased legally, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Officials said six of those guns were found at the scene of the shooting, and the rest were located in the gunman’s apartment.
The New York Times reported that witnesses said the shooter demanded to know victims’ religious affiliations before opening fire, seeming to target Christians, but that not all of the people killed were religious.
Officials in Roseburg and Douglas County, Ore., are asking that the shooter not receive any attention. Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice said at a candlelight vigil last Thursday night, “I challenge you all to never utter his name. This is about the families, this is about the victims, this is about our community and this is about the tragic loss that we all suffered today. This is not about the shooter.”
President Barack Obama echoed the sentiment that the focus should not be on the shooter, choosing instead to focus on gun laws during his statement on the shooting.
Obama stated, “But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our
thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.”
Union College President Stephen C. Ainlay sent his “thoughts and prayers” to the shooting victims, saying, “I know I speak for all of Union when I say that our hearts go out to members of the Umpqua Community College community and especially to those who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy. Their community has been damaged in so many ways and I know how difficult it will be for them in the wake of such horrific loss.”
But Ainlay, too, emphasized the need for proactive engagement to avoid incidents like this on our own campus, stating, “The Oregon tragedy should also remind us of the importance of familiarizing ourselves with the emergency protocols developed for our own community.”
Director of Campus Safety Chris Hayen gave the Concordiensis an outline of measures students should take in the event of a shooting on campus, telling us that, “persons should shelter in place and secure the area they are in as best as possible. Turn down cell devices, stay hidden and gather information as provided through our texts, emails and loud speakers.”
Hayen said Campus Safety has “the ability to secure buildings electronically and immediately.” In the event of something like a shooting, Campus Safety would “work with Facilities, Res Life and others to play a role.” Hayen detailed that Facilities would close the campus “to protect others that may be arriving” and to allow “emergency personnel on campus.”
While Facilities was closing campus, Hayen said, Campus Safety officers would “be working with local authorities to provide knowledge of building layouts and methods of response. They are also trained to assist with staging medical and supply areas” and to aid in the maintenance of “protection barriers.”
Union also takes preventative measures to avoid situations like the one at Umpqua Community College, including its Crisis Assessment and Risk Evaluation Team.
The CARE Team “works to assess and manage potentially unhealthy situations for students on Union’s campus,” including, “self-injurious behavior/suicidal ideation or attempt (behaviors include talk of suicide or suicidal action); erratic behavior that disrupts the missions and/or normal proceedings of college students, faculty, staff or community; (and) health risks that need continual monitoring,” according to Union’s website.
Students, faculty and staff can report such behaviors on the CARE Team page of Union’s website, which can be found at www.union.edu/offices/dean/care.
Hayen will be meeting with local FBI officials later this month, and he expects “to have a drill coordinated and managed by them soon.” He is unsure whether the drill will be a tabletop or live drill.
Hayen stated, “These incidents like that in Oregon are especially difficult. They are often random and so unpredictable.” He urged Union community members to read the emails he sends out on the third Wednesday of every month and to “follow the links to research further.”
Union has never experienced a shooting or mass violence situation. The college’s Campus Safety officers are not armed.
In regards to Union’s weapons policies, Hayen said, “Understanding that members of our community do enjoy participating in clubs that involve shooting, we allow students to secure firearms at our office. Weapons are not permitted to be on campus except in our storage for sign out. The weapon may be signed out and must be returned to our secure location.” Hayen believes that this system “provides an amount of accountability for what may otherwise be hidden or undetected without an appropriate procedure.”
In his statement about the Umpqua Community College shooting, Obama called on news agencies to total the number of American deaths caused by terrorism and the number of American deaths caused by gun violence over the last decade, which CNN did on Friday, Oct. 2. CNN found that, between 2001 and 2013, 3,380 Americans were killed by acts of terrorism in the U.S. and around the world, and 406,496 Americans were killed by gun violence inside the U.S.
Classes and campus events will resume at Umpqua Community College on Monday, according to the college’s website. The campus reopened to registered students, faculty and staff this week, on Monday, Oct. 5.