Chris Harper Mercer, who has been identified as Oregon’s Umpqua Community College shooter, liked to practice target shooting, the 26-year-old’s former neighbors said, according to the Los Angeles Times. Mercer killed at least nine people and wounded seven Thursday at the college in southwest Oregon.
Mercer’s ex-neighbors at an apartment complex in Torrance, California, said they had seen him and his mother carry black cases that they suspected contained firearms. The residents of the Arlington Avenue complex recalled, after Thursday’s incident, that they had asked Mercer if he owned guns, but he often deflected.
“It's hard to believe,” David Westly, one of the neighbors, told the Los Angeles Times. Another resident, Derrick McClendon, 42, said: "I wouldn't have suspected him to be a troubled person … I'm surprised and shocked, I really am.”
“Me, holding a rifle,” the caption reportedly read. “It was supposed to be all the way in the picture, but it didn't work out.”
Mercer’s relative, who did not want to be named, reportedly said that he lived with his mother for “most of his life” in Torrance, and had recently moved to Oregon. The relative described Mercer as “quiet.”
According to a law enforcement source, FBI agents in Los Angeles reportedly visited Torrance to interview the people Mercer knew when he lived there a few years ago. Investigators are working to build a profile of Mercer’s history, beliefs and prior behavior, to help determine the motive of the rampage.
Religion may have been a motivating factor for Mercer’s actions, the New York Times reported. Mercer, who later died, reportedly asked about people's religion before opening fire at the community college, one witness said. He had four weapons -- three handguns and one rifle, according to reports. It was not clear if Mercer was killed by authorities or took his own life.
“He appears to be an angry young man who was very filled with hate,” one law enforcement official told the New York Times.
Residents gathered at a Roseburg, Oregon, park for a vigil for the victims of the deadly mass shooting, with many holding candles as the hymn "Amazing Grace" was played, the Associated Press reported late Thursday.