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Oregon school shooter asked students to state their religion before opening fire

Chris Harper-Mercer was shot dead by police after 9 people were killed at Umpqua Community College.

A photographer uploaded by Harper-Mercer on MySpace with the caption,
A photographer uploaded by Harper-Mercer on MySpace with the caption, "Me, holding a rifle."
Image: Myspace

Updated 11.54 am

THE MAN US authorities suspect of killing at least 9 people at a school shooting has been unofficially named as Chris Harper-Mercer.

The 26-year-old, who was shot dead by police after a shootout at the Umpqua Community College, had expressed a disdain for religion online and had also expressed support for the IRA.

Mercer’s Myspace profile features photographs of IRA members carrying guns and a front page of the An Phoblacht newspaper with the headline ‘British army could not defeat the IRA’.

Underneath the photographs of the IRA Harper-Mercer had shared, he had written, ‘looking cool defending their country’ and ‘he’s holding what looks to be an M16A2′.

In the video section of his Myspace page, Harper-Mercer also has a video of IRA activity in the 1970s with the Wolfe Tones song Men Behind The Wire playing over it.

PastedImage-4243 Source: Myspace

Harper-Mercer’s apparent support for the socialist IRA is at odds with the conservative agenda he purports to support elsewhere online.

Survivors of yesterday’s attack says the man started asking people to stand up and state their religion, and then opened fire.

A profile created by Harper-Mercer on the Spiritual Passions dating website identifies himself as a “conservative, republican” and someone who dislike’s “organised religion”.

He also claims to be a teetotaller who lives with his parents. His profile name is ‘Iron Cross 45′, the Iron Cross is frequently used by extreme right-wing militants in the US.

The Guardian is also reporting that an email address linked to Harper-Mercer is registered on an account on the torrent site Kickass Torrents, which bears the username “Lithium_Love”.

The article states that only three days ago the Lithium_Love account uploaded a BBC documentary about the Sandy Hook school shooting to the site.

The Lithium_Love account appears to have been removed from the site.

Oregon School Shooting Hannah Miles, a student at Umqua Community College, speaks after the shooting. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Yahoo News is also reporting that the account was linked to a blog, the first post of which was titled “The material world is a lie”.

“For so long we have been taught that what’s important in life is to buy this and have that,” the blog said.

“To always have the latest fashion, biggest tv, fanciest car, nicest house, and blah, blah, blah. Well, the truth is we’ve become so attached to these things, our spiritual development has been halted.”

Police were not saying whether they knew of any motive.

The shooting on the campus in this former timber town 180 miles south of Portland shattered the first week of classes at the community college with about 3,000 students.

As well as the nine people who were killed, seven others were injured.

Harper-Mercer lived in a nearby apartment complex, which was cordoned off with yellow tape last night.

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Oregon School Shooting Candles spelling UCC for Umpqua Community College at a vigil last night. Source: AP/Press Association Images

A neighbour, Bronte Harte, said “seemed really unfriendly” and would “sit by himself in the dark in the balcony with this little light.”

Harte said a woman she believed to be Harper-Mercer’s mother also lived upstairs and was “crying her eyes out” yesterday. Neighbours told the New York Times that Harper-Mercer lived with his mother and “always seemed anxious”.

At a small, two-story stucco apartment complex in the Los Angeles-area suburb of Torrance where Harper-Mercer lived for a short time several years ago, neighbours recalled him as withdrawn and uncommunicative.

Ian Mercer, Chris Harper-Mercer’s father, spoke to KABC-TV and several other media outlets gathered outside his house in Tarzana, California, late Thursday night.

He said it’s been a “devastating day” for him and his family and he has been talking to police and the FBI about the shooting.

Oregon School Shooting Oregon Gov. Kate Brown addresses community members after the shooting. Source: AP

Step-sister Carmen Nesnick told KCBS-TV the shooting didn’t make sense.

“All he ever did was put everyone before himself, he wanted everyone to be happy,” she said.

Before the Roseburg shooting, a posting on the message-board site 4chan included a photo of a crudely drawn frog used regularly in Internet memes with a gun and warned other users not to go to school Thursday in the Northwest.

The messages that followed spoke of mass shootings, with some egging on and even offering tips to the original poster. It was unclear if the messages were tied to the shooting because of the largely anonymous nature of the site.

- With reporting from Associated Press

Read: Death toll rises in mass shooting at Oregon college >

WATCH: Obama responds angrily to latest mass shooting: “We’ve become numb to this” >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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