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Oregon gunman 'spared one student and gave him package for authorities'

Published 03/10/2015

Chris Harper-Mercer was discharged from the US army for failing to meet minimum standards (Myspace/PA)
Chris Harper-Mercer was discharged from the US army for failing to meet minimum standards (Myspace/PA)
Michael Garwood places flowers at a makeshift memorial near the road that leads to Umpqua Community College (AP)

As a 26-year-old killer gunned down victims inside a college classroom, he spared one student and gave him a package to deliver to authorities, according to the grandmother of a witness.

Gunman Christopher Harper-Mercer later killed himself as officers arrived, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said.

The grandmother, Janet Willis, said her granddaughter Anastasia Boylan was wounded in the attack and pretended to be dead as Harper-Mercer kept firing, killing eight students and a teacher.

Ms Willis said she visited her 18-year-old granddaughter in a hospital in Eugene, where the sobbing Ms Boylan told her: "'Grandma, he killed my teacher! He killed my teacher! I saw it!'"

Ms Boylan also said the gunman told one student in the writing class to stand in a corner, handed him a package and told him to deliver it to authorities.

Authorities have not disclosed whether they have such a package, but a law enforcement official said a manifesto of several pages had been recovered.

The official did not reveal the contents of the document but described it as an effort to leave a message for law enforcement.

Ms Boylan, a freshman at Umpqua Community College, also told her grandmother the gunman asked students about their faith.

"If they said they were Christian, he shot them in the head," Ms Willis said, citing the account given by her granddaughter.

However, conflicting reports emerged about Harper-Mercer's words as he shot his victims.

Stephanie Salas, the mother of Rand McGowan, another student who survived, said she was told by her son that the gunman asked victims whether they were religious but did not specifically target Christians.

Her son said he had people stand up before asking. "'Do you have a God? Are you Christian? Do you have a religion?' It was more so saying, 'you're going to be meeting your maker. This won't hurt very long.' Then he would shoot him," Ms Salas said.

Law enforcement officials have not given details about what happened in the classroom.

Harper-Mercer was enrolled in the class but officials have not disclosed a possible motive for the killings.

Harper-Mercer wore a flak jacket and brought at least six guns and five ammunition magazines when he went to the campus that morning.

The dead ranged in age from 18 to 67 and included several freshmen. They were sons and daughters, spouses and parents.

Nine other people were wounded in the attack in Roseburg, a rural timber town about 180 miles south of Portland.

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