Advertisement
World & Nation

Oregon shooter killed himself after he was injured in police shootout, authorities say

Christopher Harper-Mercer, the gunman who killed nine people and wounded nine more at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, turned a gun on himself after he was wounded in a shootout with police, officials said Wednesday.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Rick Wesenberg said at a news conference that two plainclothes detectives responded to reports of a shooting at the school in Roseburg and exchanged gunfire with Harper-Mercer before he killed himself.

Wesenberg praised the officers for their quick response.

“I want everyone to know of the selfless act these officers made in responding to the scene,” he said. “They had little regard for their own personal safety, and they saved many, many lives that day by their heroic acts.”

Advertisement

Over the weekend, officials said that Harper-Mercer, 26, had committed suicide after two city police officers and a state trooper responded to an emergency call for help.

Wesenberg gave new details about the confrontation: The two detectives, who were not wearing bulletproof vests, saw Harper-Mercer in a doorway inside Snyder Hall after he had opened fire in a classroom. The gunman fired several times at them and they returned fire, hitting him once in the right side.

The detectives have been identified as Joe Kaney, 49, and Todd Spingath, 41. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin has also said their swift actions saved lives.

Officials recovered six weapons at the school, at least five magazines of ammunition and a flak vest worn by Harper-Mercer. Eight other weapons were recovered at his home.

Advertisement

Harper-Mercer’s mother, Laurel Harper, shared her son’s passion for guns.

She and her son shared an apartment outside Roseburg. Neighbors of theirs in Southern California, where they lived before moving to Oregon in 2013, have said the two went target shooting together.

In online postings, Laurel Harper talked about her love of guns and her son’s emotional troubles, but there were no hints of worry that he could become violent, the Associated Press has reported.

“I keep two full mags in my Glock case. And the ARs & AKs all have loaded mags. No one will be ‘dropping’ by my house uninvited without acknowledgment,” she wrote in a post three years ago.

She was referring to a Glock handgun and to military-style rifles. A Glock and a military-style rifle were among the weapons seized after the rampage at the college.

Laurel Harper, a nurse, wrote in another post: “I love the long guns & I have an AK-47 en route.” She complained about gun control efforts in “lame states.”

She posted several times that her son had Asperger’s syndrome.

One post reads: “He’s no babbling idiot nor is his life worthless. He’s very intelligent and is working on a career in filmmaking.”

Advertisement

michael.muskal@latimes.com


Newsletter
Get our Today's Headlines newsletter
Advertisement