On Thursday morning, Chris Harper-Mercer allegedly walked into the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and shot dead 10 people before dying during a gunfire exchange with authorities. At least seven more were left injured after the gunman stormed the campus.
Why this 26-year-old man supposedly carried out the shooting is not yet known and multiple online accounts, independently verified by Mashable, do little to paint a picture of how a young man turned into a mass murderer.
While Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin refused to identify the shooter, fearing it would give him attention he didn’t deserve, multiple media outlets reported his name, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.
The shocked family
In addition, Harper-Mercer’s family members and neighbors spoke to the media Thursday evening, noting they were surprised to hear he was the suspected mass murderer.
“Shocked is all I can say,” the gunman’s father, Ian Harper, told reporters outside his Tarzana, California home, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s been a devastating day.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Nesnick told CBS Los Angeles on Thursday night. “I’m shaking right now. He was a nice guy.”
She told NBC her brother was born in the United Kingdom and moved to the U.S. as a child. Nesnick told the news channel that although his father was married to her mom, the last time she had seen Harper-Mercer was more than a year ago.
After the shooting, authorities surrounded an apartment complex in Winchester, Oregon that is listed online as Harper-Mercer’s home address. The listing shows his previous address as Torrance, California.
Neighbors in Torrance, where Harper-Mercer is believed to have lived four years ago, told CBS they would see him wearing camouflage gear and boots, but that he seemed reserved. “He would always wear like a white muscle shirt, khaki Army pants and like big combat boots,” one woman said.
Current neighbor, Bronte Harte, told the Associated Press Mercer would “sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light.” Harte said a woman, who lived upstairs, was “crying her eyes out” and she believed it was the gunman’s mother.
His online footprint
Harper-Mercer had a prolific online presence, including a profile set up in 2011 on Mashable. That profile was only active from May 2011 to November 2011.
Information from a Facebook profile, which has since been shut down, ties Harper-Mercer to Torrance, California. It links him to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, a reference to Nazi Germany, and shows he attended Switzer Learning Center — for people with “moderate to severe learning disabilities, emotional issues, attention problems, and behavioral disorders” — and El Camino College, both in Torrance.
Former Torrance neighbors told a local CBS station he lived there for years with his family, but kept to himself.
A quotation on the Facebook account simply read: “When all the pleasures of the world have diluted, the only thing left that is pure is power.”
The Ironcross email was used across a few of Harper-Mercer’s other online profiles, including a penpal account and a torrent website, Kick Ass Torrents. On the torrent website, his last upload is shown three days ago as a documentary on the Sandy Hook Massacre, where gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school.
Harper-Mercer was actively posting blogs to the same forum until recently. He wrote multiple entries on shootings in the U.S., including the recent shooting on live TV in Virginia of news reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by Vester Flanagan, who later shot himself. Harper-Mercer details his empathy for the gunman, before urging his readers to check out the “good” footage of the shooting on YouTube.
“On an interesting note, I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are,” Harper-Mercer wrote. “A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more your’re [sic] in the limelight.”
The most telling of all his online profiles is his MySpace account, which shows propaganda videos and photos of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), with soldiers dressed in camouflage and balaclavas while holding guns. The account also shows Harper-Mercer in his profile picture with a rifle. His links to the IRA are unknown.
Under the username Ironcross45, Harper-Mercer also had an active dating profile on the website Spiritual Passions, in which he says he is spiritual but not into organized religion. Despite this, one of the two people he has as connections on MySpace is a man with extremist Islamic views. At this stage, Harper-Mercer’s motive is unknown and no online manifesto or confession relating to the shooting has been uncovered.
Students have recounted to reporters that the gunman asked people in the classroom who had dropped to the ground when he entered the classroom shooting to state their religion. If they were Christian, they were told to stand up and then shot, students said.
“And 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, the father of victim Anastasia Boylan, who underwent spinal surgery after the shooting, told CNN.
Despite the amount of information now confirmed to be linked to the gunman, police urged the public to take postings by armchair detectives with a grain of salt. Authorities have not confirmed if Harper-Mercer had links to any extremist organizations nor his motives.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 Newswire Post