The tragic shooting that took place at Umpqua Community College in the sleepy town of Roseburg, Oregon killed 13 people, with many more injured.
Authorities identified the shooter as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer. “He appears to be an angry young man who was very filled with hate,” one law enforcement official said. There has been speculation that Mercer posted his plans on 4chan—an online community that is known as a haven for internet trolls—before committing the atrocious act.
The event looms heavy on the psyche of everyone in America, as mass shootings seem to keep occurring with greater and greater frequency. As we mourn the victims, it might also be time to examine other shootings that have occurred in order to reflect on the state of affairs in our society.
On December 11, 2012, a 22-year-old gunman named Jacob Tyler Roberts opened fire on employees and shoppers in the Clackamas Town Center, clothed in tactical clothing and a hockey mask, carrying a stolen AR-15. There were two fatalities and one injury, although the number of shots fired was reported to be considerably higher—17 in total. He then went down the stairwell and committed suicide. Roberts had no prior connection to the victims and a true motive was never pinpointed despite speculation that Roberts was depressed over failed plans to move to Hawaii; authorities labeled the incident “a random act of violence.” Fortunately, the 15-year-old girl who would have been Roberts’ third victim survived after being airlifted to the hospital.
15-year-old freshman Jared Michael Padgett went to school on June 10, 2014 with a loaded AR-15, handgun and knife. He entered the school’s locker room, killing 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman and injuring a physical education teacher. After engaging the police in a gunfight, he ran inside a school bathroom where he was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. Padgett, a devout Mormon from a Gresham ward, was part of his school’s ROTC program, and intended on following a career in the United States military after graduation. Like Roberts, Padgett’s motives remain unspoken and unclear.
A soon-to-be-expelled student named Kip Kinkel of Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, murdered his parents before going on a shooting rampage at his former high school on May 21, 1998. Packing two pistols, two knives and a .22 caliber rifle, Kinkel fired a total of 50 shots from his rifle and one from a pistol, mostly in the cafeteria. The event left two students dead and 25 injured; Kinkel himself survived after being subdued by seven other students, some of whom he had just shot. Kinkel pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder and is currently serving a 111-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole. In 2007, he submitted an appeal for a new trial, stating that his lawyers should have used an insanity defense—two psychiatrists testified that he had shown signs of paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the crime—and citing ineffective counsel. This appeal was denied, and Kinkel remains incarcerated.
On February 23, 2006, 14-year-old Vincent Wayne Leodoro shot Joseph Monti with a 10mm semi-automatic handgun at Roseburg High School. Amazingly, despite being struck with hollow point bullets designed to do maximum damage to their target, Monti survived. Leodoro was then found in front of a local restaurant and accosted by six police officers. He threatened to shoot himself in the head, but was convinced not to. He later surrendered and was found guilty of attempted murder.
A gunman shot four people outside Rosemary Anderson High School in north Portland back in December 12, 2014. Although there were no fatalities, a 16-year-old girl was in critical condition and others suffered slight wounds. Three male suspects were detained in connection to the shooting, though it is unclear who pulled the trigger. Again, motives remain undisclosed, although gang violence is suspected.
Although not a mass shooting, a Bend High School student shot himself in a modular classroom in front of other students—committing suicide—in February 2014. The student was not identified due to a policy of anonymity on suicides.
According to the Washington Post, there have been 295 mass shootings within the last 274 days in the U.S.—that’s an astronomically high number of shootings compared to other developed nations (and even developing nations). President Obama recently made a statement saying, “We are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or [who] want to do harm to other people,” adding, “But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these mass shootings every few months.”
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