The 26-year-old killer who gunned down classmates at an Oregon college spared a student and gave the “lucky one” something to deliver to authorities, according to the mother of a student who witnessed the rampage.
Others were not as fortunate. Parents of students in the classroom said the gunman shot one after saying she could save her life by begging. Others were killed after being told to crawl across the floor.
Shooter Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer later killed himself as officers arrived, Douglas county sheriff John Hanlin said.
Authorities have not disclosed whether they have an envelope or package from Harper-Mercer. However, a law enforcement official said a manifesto of several pages had been recovered.
Bonnie Schaan, the mother of Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, 16, said she was told by her daughter that the gunman gave someone an envelope and told him to go to a corner of the classroom.
Harper-Mercer said the person “was going to be ‘the lucky one’,” Schaan told reporters outside a hospital where her daughter’s kidney was removed after she was shot. Relatives of other survivors also said Harper-Mercer gave something to a student in the class.
[timgcap=A woman visits a makeshift memorial near the road leading to Umpqua Community College. Picture: AP]OregonShootingFenceMemorialOct42015AP_large.jpg[/timg]
Pastor Randy Scroggins, whose daughter Lacey, 18, escaped without physical injuries, said she told him the gunman called to a student, saying: “‘Don’t worry, you’re the one who is going to survive.’”
Harper-Mercer then told the student that inside the shooter’s backpack was “all the information that you’ll need. Give it to the police”, Scroggins said, citing the account by his daughter.
Scroggins said that his daughter survived because she was lying on the floor and partially covered by the body of a fellow student.
The gunman thought Lacey was dead as well, stepped over her, and shot someone else.
Janet Willis said her granddaughter Anastasia Boylan was wounded in the Thursday attack and pretended to be dead as Harper-Mercer kept firing, killing eight students and a teacher.
Willis said she visited her 18-year-old granddaughter in a hospital in Eugene, where the sobbing Boylan told her: ‘Grandma, he killed my teacher’.
Boylan also said the shooter told one student in the class to stand in a corner, handed him a package, and told him to deliver it to authorities, Willis said. The law enforcement official who disclosed the existence of the manifesto did not reveal its contents but described it as an effort to leave a message for law enforcement.
Boylan, a freshman at Umpqua Community College, also told her grandmother the gunman asked students about their faith.
“If they said they were Christian, he shot them in the head,” Willis said, citing the account given by her granddaughter.
However, conflicting reports emerged about Harper-Mercer’s words as he shot his victims. Stephanie Salas, mother of student Rand McGowan, who survived, said she was told by her son the shooter asked victims whether they were religious but did not specifically target Christians.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved