The father of a 26-year-old gunman who killed nine people and then himself in a shooting rampage at a community college in Roseburg, Ore., said on Saturday that the massacre would not have happened if his son had not been allowed to purchase more than a dozen guns.
“How on earth could he compile 13 guns?” Ian Mercer, the father of Christopher Harper-Mercer, said in an interview with CNN at his home in Torrance, Calif. He said he had no idea that his son owned any firearms, adding, “How was he able to compile that kind of arsenal?”
Law enforcement officials said they had actually confiscated 14 guns from the shooting scene and Mr. Harper-Mercer’s home near Roseburg. All of the weapons had been legally purchased, either by Mr. Harper-Mercer or a relative, law enforcement officials have said.
Standing on his lawn, Mr. Mercer said the shooting had devastated his family. ”But we’re not alone in this,” he said. “My heart goes out to all the families that were affected by this.”
He said he had not seen his son since he moved to Oregon with his mother about two years ago, but that they had a “harmonious” father-son relationship. He would not discuss his son’s mental health issues, deferring a reporter’s questions to the police investigation. He divorced Mr. Harper-Mercer’s mother about a decade ago. “Obviously, someone who goes and kills nine people has to have some kind of issue,” he said.
Expressing dismay with the lack of gun-control legislation following previous mass shootings, Mr. Mercer called for the authorities to enact tougher restrictions. ”It has to change,” he said. “How can it not? Even people that believe in the right to bear arms, what right do you have to take people’s lives? That’s what guns are, for killers.”
Earlier on Saturday, Sheriff John Hanlin of Douglas County announced that a medical examiner had ruled Mr. Harper-Mercer’s death a suicide. He said investigators had also recovered an additional firearm during a search of his home, bringing the total of his firearms to 14. The gunman had six weapons and body armor with him during the shooting.
The rampage at Umpqua Community College on Thursday left nine other people dead and nine wounded. Mr. Harper-Mercer was also wounded while exchanging gunfire with the police, before shooting himself, the authorities said.
Investigators were still sifting through hundreds of interviews and pieces of evidence, including from his electronic devices and writings he left behind, in search of the gunman’s motive, Sheriff Hanlin said.
Addressing the victims’ families, Sheriff Hanlin appeared to choke on his words. “Please know that we consider your loved ones our heroes,” he said. “They will never be forgotten.”
Also on Saturday, Bonnie Schaan, whose daughter Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, 16, was shot in the back and is in the hospital, said that Mr. Harper-Mercer gave an envelope to one student and told him, “You are going to be the lucky one.” He ordered that student into a corner and herded the others into the middle of the room, then started shooting, Ms. Schaan said in a news conference outside CHI Mercy Health in Roseburg.
She said the gunman asked her daughter her religion before shooting her, but she did not answer. Her daughter lost a kidney from the shooting.
Dr. Jason Gray, the chief medical officer at CHI Mercy Health, said only two victims were still in the hospital. One was in critical condition and the other in fair condition. They were expected to be released in two to five days.
The hospital treated seven victims in total, Dr. Gray said. Two were released Thursday, four went into surgery, and one died in the emergency department. Three other people were being treated for wounds at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in the town of Springfield.
On Friday, about 300 people showed up at CHI Mercy Health to donate blood, Dr. Gray said. The hospital set up a donation station nearby to handle the crowd. Local businesses offered support as well, sending over boxes of doughnuts, pizzas, coffee and bagels. Some physicians closed their offices and showed up to help, Dr. Gray said.
The campus is scheduled to reopen on Monday for counseling and other services, though classes might not resume until the week of Oct. 12 or later, school officials said. Student activities were also canceled through the weekend.