New details emerging about the gunman who opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on Thursday reveal that he had previously been turned away from a private firearms academy.
Christopher Harper Mercer, 26, was officially identified Friday as the assailant in the rampage at the community college in Roseburg, which killed nine people and injured seven. The gunman was later “neutralized” in a shootout with police, when he committed suicide.
He sought to register for in 2012 or 2013 at Seven 4 Para, a private self-defense and law enforcement training academy in Torrance, but was turned away by the academy’s president and head instructor Elon Way.
“We wanted him to take a beginner safety course and he was trying to tell me that he already had experience with firearms and I didn’t get a good feeling about him, so I turned him down,” Mr. Way told Reuters.
“He was just kind of a weird guy and seemed kind of spoiled, immature,” Mr. Way added. “He was a little bit too anxious to get high-level training and there was no reason for it.”
Mr. Harper Mercer also had a brief stint in the Army in 2008. He was enrolled in basic training for less than a month before he was discharged for “failing to meet the minimum administrative standards to serve in the U.S. Army,” the Pentagon said.
Authorities have disclosed little of what they think the gunman’s motivations might have been.
He left behind a “multipage, hate-filled” statement in the classroom, an NBC reporter tweeted, citing law enforcement sources.
CNN reported his writings revealed “hatred” toward black men and how he was frustrated being a virgin left him unable to find a girlfriend.
The gunman also reportedly targeted Christians for execution during the rampage.
He also expressed admiration for the Irish Republican Army online. The militant group waged a violent campaign to drive the British from Northern Ireland.
The victims were identified as assistant English professor Lawrence Levine, 67, and eight people believed to be his students: Quinn Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Johnson, 33; Sarena Moore, 44; Treven Anspach, 20; and Rebecka Carnes, 18; and Lucero Alcaraz, 19.