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Police search for answers in Oregon college rampage

Federal authorities say that the shooter who killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon had body armor and six guns with him, and seven more guns found at his apartment. Neighbors describe the gunman, who died in a shootout with police, as reclusive. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports on how the Roseburg community is mourning.

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    Multiple guns, multiple shots, and multiple questions. Investigators in Oregon filled in more details today about the mass shooting that left nine people and the shooter dead, and wounded nine others. But they were still trying to figure out the why.

    Special correspondent Cat Wise begins our coverage.


    By this morning, police tape was up at this apartment complex in Winchester, Oregon, as investigators hunted for clues and a motive. The man identified as the gunman, Chris Harper Mercer, had lived there before he opened fire at Umpqua Community College in nearby Roseburg.

    He was killed in a shoot-out with police. Federal authorities say he had body armor and six guns with him, including pistols and a rifle. They found seven more guns at the apartment. All had been purchased legally, but Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin suggested the number is not so unusual.

  • JOHN HANLIN, Sheriff, Douglas County:

    In Oregon, I mean, this is a hunting state, and firearms are popular in most households, yes.


    As police search for what sparked the shootings, a picture of the gunman has begun to emerge. Neighbors in this complex describe him as reclusive and very close with his mother. His online social profiles show a fascination with guns, the Irish Republican Army, and an apparent hatred for organized religion.

    Witnesses at the shooting scene said the gunman demanded to know each student's religion before he shot them, seeming to single out Christians. He was also interested in mass shootings, writing in one blog post: "Seems the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."

    With that apparently in mind, Sheriff Hanlin made clear today he won't utter the killer's name.


    I continue to believe that those media and community members who publicize his name will only glorify his horrific actions, and, eventually, this will only serve to inspire future shooters.


    Meanwhile, the people of Roseburg, in the heart of Oregon's timber country, were plunged into mourning. Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil last night, including the college's interim president, Rita Cavin.

  • RITA CAVIN, Interim President, Umpqua Community College:

    It's a small community. Many people have been here for multiple generations. It's very close-knit. So, when word went out that we needed help, the network just surrounded us. And it's a blessing of being in a small town.


    Governor Kate Brown visited today to lend support.

    GOV. KATE BROWN (D), Oregon: Oregon has worked continuously to prevent these kind of tragedies, but they continue to happen here and across the nation, and it is going to keep happening until we decide we want them to stop.


    The killings also brought new calls for gun control from President Obama again today.


    The majority of people who have mental illnesses are not shooters. So, we can't sort through and identify ahead of time who might take actions like this. The only thing we can do is make sure that they can't have an entire arsenal when something snaps in them.


    And the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, said he hopes the United States will take the necessary action to reduce gun violence.


    I'm Cat Wise for the PBS NewsHour in Roseburg, Oregon. This evening, authorities identified the nine dead, including students and one teacher. We will turn to the broader issues of gun violence and mental illness after the news summary.

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