Gunman Kills 9 at Oregon Community College After Telling Them to State Their Religions

A 26-year-old gunman is dead after he opened fire on a community college campus in Oregon on Thursday morning, killing nine, officials and reports said.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin confirmed on Thursday night that 10 people - including the gunman - were dead and seven more were injured following the shooting at the Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg.

The gunman was identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer.

Emergency responders had rushed to the college at 10:38 a.m. PST, as 911 calls began streaming in of shots fired inside Snyder Hall.

The campus was immediately locked down following the incident, which was the 45th school shooting in the U.S. in 2015 alone, according to gun safety coalition Everytown. 

Mercer was killed after he engaged in gun fire with responding officers, Hanlin said during a press conference.

"The shooter threat was neutralized and officers continued to sweep the campus, looking for other threats," Hanlin said, noting no officers were injured during the exchange.  

"We are exchanging gunfire. Confirmed reports he has a long gun," a police dispatcher said in an audio recording. "Suspect is down. We've got multiple gunshot wounds on scene. Going to need multiple ambulances scene."

Officials said there was no longer any threat present to the community.

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Victims were rushed to local hospitals, which prepared for the onslaught of patients by activating their trauma response teams. 

"Somebody is outside one of the doors shooting through the doors. There is a female in the computer lab. We do have one female who has been shot at this time," a police dispatcher said in an audio recording.

A witness said the shooter asked students inside a classroom to stand and state their religion before he started firing, according to OregonLive.com.

Kortney Moore, 18, told the News Review she was sitting in her writing class when a bullet blasted through the window and shot her teacher in the head, OregonLive.com wrote.

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Moore said the shooter entered the classroom, told people to get on the ground, then asked people to state their religion before he started firing in all directions, OregonLive.com reported. 

College staff and family members were taken by bus to the Douglas County Fairgrounds to meet loved ones after the shooting, Oregon State Police said in a press release. "Emergency personnel are urging the public to avoid the area as it could hamper emergency efforts," they said. 

Hours later, investigators were still busy at work on the campus.

"At this point, it's a very active scene, it's a very active investigation," Hanlin said.

The Sheriff's Department was aided by multiple law enforcement agencies, including Oregon State Police, the FBI and the U.S. Marshalls, he said. Ten ATF agents and a K9 team were deployed out of its Eugene and Portland field offices, an ATF spokesman said. 

Many took to social media to express their grief over the incident.

"My thoughts are with the families and victims of today's tragedy," Oregon Governor Kate Brown tweeted.

She later held a press conference, where she expressed "Profound dismay and heartbreak in this tragedy."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We're holding the community of Douglas County in our hearts today," Brown said. 

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., wrote on Twitter, "Horrific news from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. My heart and prayers are with the victims and their families."

Several message boards noted the shooter may have revealed his plans a night before the rampage in posts on the website 4chan.

On Wednesday night, an anonymous user posted a warning to the site not "go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest."

Hanlin could not confirm what weapon was used during the shooting, nor could he confirm if the shooter was a student at the school. 

There are approximately 3,300 full-time students 16,000 part-time students enrolled at Umpqua Community College, which was established in 1964. There are between 12 and 15 buildings on campus, Sgt. Aaron Dunbar with the Roseburg Police Department told CNN.

"Umpqua is the only higher education facility we have in Douglas County," Hanlin said, noting that many students are misplaced workers who went back to school to learn new trades. 

"Certainly this is a huge shock to the community," he said, urging people to keep in mind the families of the victims.

"Be aware of their anguish and think of them first," Hanlin said. "The families of the victims are the ones who are going to have the most difficulties ahead."

The college will be closed until Monday and iremains an active crime scene, a college official confirmed during a press conference Thursday. 

A visibly angry and upset President Barack Obama addressed the shooting from the White House. It was his 15th time during his presidency responding to a mass shooting.

"There's been another mass shooting in America... That means there are more American families, moms, dads, children, whose lives have been changed forever," Obama said. "I've been to Roseburg. There are really good people there."

He urged Americans to look at this incident as a wake-up call, saying, ""The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium is routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it — we’ve become numb to this."

Arguing that the shooting should be politicized. "This is a political choice we make to allow this to happen every few months in America," Obama said. 

"Each time this happens, I'm going to bring this up. I am going to say that we can actually do something about it." 

This is a developing story. Check back frequently for updates. 

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