A lone gunman opened fire on campus at Umpqua Community College Thursday morning, killing one instructor and several students. The tragedy marks the third-most-deadly campus shooting.
The shooter entered a campus building around 10:30 Thursday morning armed with four guns, including a semiautomatic rifle, and began shooting into classrooms. Witnesses report that he asked people their religions before firing on them.
The college immediately went on lockdown. Police quickly arrived on the scene and engaged the shooter, who was killed in the exchange of gunfire.
It was the 294th mass shooting in the country this year, according to the Washington Post.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin is refusing to name the shooter publicly himself. "I will not name the shooter," he said Thursday night at a press conference. "I will not give him credit for this horrific act of cowardice. Media will get the name confirmed in time … but you will never hear us use it."
President Obama made a televised appearance Thursday night and plead for stricter gun control laws. Mass shootings are now so common, he said, that "we've become numb to this." He called on Americans to push their representatives for change. "If you think this is a problem," Obama said, "then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views."
Umpqua sits in Roseburg, Oregon, surrounded by national forests about 180 miles south of Portland. The average student is in his or her late 30s, as many students attend to learn new skills for a mid-life career change.
"This is so out of character for this whole area," says Rick Francona, a CNN analyst who lives nearby.
As of Friday morning, police are not speculating on a motive for the attack. They are following up on potentially connected online threats and interviewing neighbors and family of the shooter.
The tragedy is likely to reignite the debate over campus carry. The state of Oregon allows concealed weapons on public college campuses, although Umpqua bans them "except as expressly authorized by law" (Fain/New, Inside Higher Ed, 10/2; Vanderhart et al., New York Times, 10/1; Griffin, The Oregonian/OregonLive, 10/1; Saslow, et al., Washington Post, 10/2; Payen et al., CNN, 10/2 ).
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