Federal law enforcement officials are actively investigating if comments made on anonymous message board 4chan were linked to Oregon shooter Chris Harper Mercer.
Mercer, 26, has been identified as the person responsible for shooting dead at least nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon Thursday. Mercer died during an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officials on the campus.
Soon after the news of the latest mass shooting emerged, people began highlighting a series of comments posted on an obscure forum called r9k of the notorious message board 4chan. The message, posted just after midnight Thursday, read: "Some of you guys are alright. Don't go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest. So long space robots."
The New York Times reported that federal law enforcement officials said they were examining a conversation on 4chan as well as other social media to try to determine if any of these were linked to Mercer.
The message, which is archived here, immediately raised the possibility that the anonymous poster was Mercer. However, given the inherently anonymous nature of 4chan, it is impossible to quickly verify the identity of the person behind the post. Responses to the message encourage the person to carry out the attack with some even giving tips on how to carry out such an attack.
"I suggest you enter a classroom and tell people that you will take them as hostages. Make everyone get in one corner and then open fire. Make sure that there is no way that someone can disarm you as it it possible. I suggest you carry a knife on your belt as last resort if someone is holding your gun," one of the comments read.
In the wake of the shooting, members of r9k forum, which is predominantly made up of people who identify as socially awkward and loners, began trolling media outlets by creating fake profiles to try and trick them into reporting them.
The motive behind the shooting is unknown with investigators attempting to piece together any evidence from the people who knew Mercer, including his former neighbors who revealed that he enjoyed target shooting. A MySpace profile of Chris Harper Mercer shows a young man with a barrel of a rifle pointing up into the frame of his portrait with the caption: "Me, holding a rifle. It was supposed to be all the way in the picture, but it didn't work out.”
Following the shooting, President Barack Obama delivered a strong message to the pro-gun lobby, calling once again for more sensible gun laws and tasked the media with highlighting the number of deaths from gun violence compared to terrorism in recent years.
"As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America -- next week, or a couple of months from now," Obama said.