When 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire on students and faculty at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on Thursday, ultimately killing nine people and wounding several others, the nation entered another public debate on the future of gun control reform. Speaking to the nation just hours after the tragedy, President Barack Obama expressed his concern that many Americans were simply growing "numb" to such horrific events due to their startling frequency all across the United States. As more accounts emerge from Thursday's harrowing events, more details regarding the life of Chris Harper-Mercer are also starting to come into focus.
Harper-Mercer, the son of Ian Mercer and Laurel Margaret Harper, was reportedly born in England before moving to the U.S. at a young age. Mercer and Harper filed for divorce in 2006, though the details of that divorce are not entirely known. Harper-Mercer appears to have left "an online footprint" hinting at some interest in mass shootings, according to the Guardian. Using a public records search, various outlets have reported that an email address believed to be "associated with" Harper-Mercer was linked to an account on a torrent upload site under the username "Lithium_Love." The last video allegedly uploaded by this account was a BBC documentary entitled Surviving Sandy Hook, which detailed the tragic 2012 school shooting in Newton, Connecticut. PDFs of "occult magazine" Phenomena, various "conspiracy-themed" documentaries, and "assorted soft pornography" were also uploaded by this account.
A Myspace page presumably belonging to Harper-Mercer features multiple photographs of "masked gunmen" and multiple references to the Irish Republican Army. The page also claims Harper-Mercer's location as Torrance, California, where he reportedly lived with his mother before moving to Oregon. Former Torrance neighbors tell CBS News that Harper-Mercer "mostly kept to himself," while his neighbors in Winchester, Oregon described him as "not a friendly type of guy" to the New York Times.
Though it still remains unknown whether the shooter had any direct affiliation with Umpqua Community College, a recent posting on Facebook listed Harper-Mercer as a "production assistant" on an upcoming theatre production:
In a blog post affiliated with the aforementioned "Lithium_Love" account quoted by Gawker, multiple references and stances of sympathy appear regarding the gunman responsible for the recent fatal shootings of two WDBJ employees during a live broadcast in Virginia:
I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.
And I have to say, anyone who knew him could have seen this coming. People like him have nothing left to live for, and the only thing left to do is lash out at a society that has abandoned them.
Harper-Mercer was reported dead shortly after Thursday's shooting, though whether he was shot and killed or committed suicide currently remains unknown.