After Mass Shooting In Oregon, A Community Mourns
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
We're learning more about the nine people who died Thursday in a shooting attack that shattered the peace in a small town in Oregon. Authorities have released the names of the victims who were murdered at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. Nine other people were wounded. The shooter died as well. NPR's Tom Goldman has been in Roseburg since the day of the shooting and joins us. Tom, thanks for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott, my pleasure.
SIMON: And of course, we usually talk about sports - not today. Oregon's your home.
GOLDMAN: Not today, indeed. I'm based in Portland, about three, three-and-a-half hours north of here, close enough for me to come here and report on this.
SIMON: Really the past news cycle, as they say, have learned the names of the nine people who died. Tell us what you can about them as people.
GOLDMAN: Well, four were teenagers - Quinn Cooper, Lucas Eibel, Rebecka Carnes - all 18. Lucero Alcaraz was 19. Twenty-year-old Treven Anspach was a funny guy and a damn good basketball player, according to a close friend. Jason Johnson, 34, had dealt with drug addiction, according to his mom, but was proud of himself for turning his life around and enrolling at Umpqua Community. Sarena Moore, 44, loved horses and dogs. Fifty-nine-year-old Kim Dietz was going to Umpqua Community at the same time as her daughter. And then Lawrence Levine, he was a teacher at Umpqua Community. He was 67.
SIMON: And one of the students who survived but was wounded is getting an awful lot of admiring attention.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, that's Army veteran Chris Mintz, age 30. He was shot several times as he tried to block a door in a classroom so the killer couldn't get in. And when the shooter broke through the door, Mintz reportedly told him it was Mintz's son's birthday that day, whereupon the shooter shot Mintz again.
SIMON: The shooter himself - some media organizations have named him. Law enforcement officials in Roseburg have determinedly not named him to try and minimize his notoriety.
SIMON: What's the latest we know about the gunman?
GOLDMAN: NPR has learned a few things about 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. He trained as an Army recruit in 2008. But after a little over a month, he was administratively discharged. Now, according to our Tom Bowman, Pentagon correspondent, that often happens because of poor performance or failure to adapt. There are reports about the shooter's writings. The New York Times says investigators found a typed statement at the attack site written by the gunman, essentially describing his life as not working out. There are other writings, reportedly linked to social media, that are hateful and angry. But law enforcement sources close to the investigation tell NPR the writings don't comprise a coherent manifesto. Officials say the shooter was enrolled in the class where he launched the attack. And yesterday, an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said the shooter had a veritable arsenal - six firearms recovered at the school, seven more at his apartment - all purchased legally.
SIMON: Tom, in all your conversations, what - what strikes you about the reactions in town?
GOLDMAN: You know, watching the national reaction - the quick swing to a debate on gun laws, the president's anger about, you know, here we go again, this horrible routine being repeated - that's not the feeling here. It's brand-new, and now it's personal. It hit them. I had a conversation with a local pastor yesterday who lives with his family close to the shooting site. And we were calmly discussing the events, and he started to break down. So the grief is there, buried a bit in some. Obviously, for the families of the nine dead, it's now a constant companion. The parents of 18-year-old victim Quinn Cooper said it most vividly in a statement yesterday - our lives are shattered beyond repair. No one should ever feel the pain we're feeling.
SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks very much for being with us.
GOLDMAN: My pleasure, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.