ROSEBURG, Ore. — The 26-year-old gunman who opened fire in a community college English class, killing nine, was an Army boot camp dropout who studied mass shooters before becoming one himself.
A day after the rampage in an Oregon timber town, authorities said Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer wore a flak jacket and brought at least six guns and five ammunition magazines to the school. Investigators found another seven guns at the apartment he shared with his mother.
Also Friday, officials released the names, ages and brief biographical information about the nine dead, who ranged in age from 18 to 67 and included several freshmen and a teacher. They were sons and daughters, spouses and parents.
One of the freshmen was active in the Future Farmers of America and loved to play soccer. Another was on only his fourth day of college. Grieving families began sharing details of their loved ones.
"We have been trying to figure out how to tell everyone how amazing Lucas was, but that would take 18 years," the family of Lucas Eibel, 18, said in a statement released through the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
Quinn Glen Cooper's family said their son had just started college.
"I don't know how we are going to move forward with our lives without Quinn," the Coopers said. "Our lives are shattered beyond repair."
Nine other people were wounded in the attack, officials said.
Harper-Mercer, who died during a shootout with police, was armed with handguns and a rifle, some of which were military grade. The weapons had been purchased legally over the past three years, some by him, others by relatives, said Celinez Nunez, assistant field agent for the Seattle division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Harper-Mercer's social media profiles suggested he was fascinated by the Irish Republican Army, frustrated by traditional organized religion and that he tracked other mass shootings. In one post, he appeared to urge readers to watch the online footage of Vester Flanagan shooting two former colleagues live on TV in August in Virginia, noting "the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."
The Army said Harper-Mercer flunked out of basic training in 2008
In Washington, President Barack Obama lamented the government's inability to pass stricter gun laws even after attacks like the one in Oregon.
At a news conference Friday at the White House, Obama said he plans to keep talking about the issue and "will politicize it" because inaction is itself a political decision the U.S. is making.
He said it's impossible to identify mentally ill people likely to perpetrate mass shootings ahead of time. The only thing the U.S. can do, he explained, is ensure they don't have an arsenal available "when something in them snaps."
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.