The deceased gunman in yesterday's devastating mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has been identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer, and already reporters have been swarming around his two most recent residences in Winchester, Oregon and Torrance, California getting quotes from neighbors, none of whom seemed to know him well. Most, like those who spoke to the New York Times, describe him as reclusive and extremely close with his mother, with whom he lived in small apartments in both places. Some report barely ever seeing him, or occasionally seeing him wearing military gear (white t-shirt, shaved head, combat boots) coming back from a gun range with gun cases, along with his mom.
A dormant profile on a dating website depicts him as a conservative and introvert, a teetotaler, and a tongue-in-cheek fan of zombie fiction who hated organized religion. He described himself as "shy at first, but [I] warm up quickly, better in small groups."
The Los Angeles Times reports that authorities have obtained some of Mercer's writings that show him to be "a hate-filled individual with anti-government and conspiracy tendencies" who "was supportive of the white supremacist agenda and opposed organized religion." He also expressed sympathy for the Irish Republican Army.
According to witnesses in the classroom where the shooting began on Thursday morning, Harper-Mercer was targeting Christians. He ordered everyone who was Christian to stand up, and as KTLA reports, he allegedly said, "Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second."
Ten people are reportedly dead, and another seven wounded from the shooting, though the SF Chronicle and others have the death toll at nine.
Former neighbors in Torrance recalled multiple instances in which Harper-Mercer's mother would complain about noise, both from children and dogs, saying that it bothered her son. At one point, circulating a petition to get the landlord to deal with a cockroach problem, a neighbor remembers her saying, "My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him."
A more recent neighbor in Oregon described him as angry and confrontational, yelling at her for smoking on her balcony. "He yelled at us, me and my husband,” she said. “He was not a friendly type of guy. He did not want anything to do with anyone."
Multiple weapons were reportedly found in the Winchester apartment where he and his mother lived. She has so far not spoken with the media, however Harper-Mercer's father and stepsister spoke briefly with reporters Thursday night, with his father who may be Irish saying he was just "shocked." His stepsister said he was a person who "no matter if he was sad or mad he would always try to cheer up everybody."
Online, Harper-Mercer may have been responsible for the 4Chan conversation below in which he warned, "Don't go to school tomorrow if you're in the northwest."
And, disturbingly, online blog posts and downloads suggest that Harper-Mercer had recently watched a documentary about the school shooting at Sandy Hook, in Newtown, Connecticut, and he'd expressed admiration and sympathy for Vester Flanagan, the man who gunned down two former colleagues in Virginia in August.
In a blog post dated August 31, Harper-Mercer wrote, "And I have to say, anyone who knew him could have seen this coming. People like him have nothing left to live for, and the only thing left to do is lash out at a society that has abandoned them... 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. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone."