At least 10 people have been killed and another 20 reportedly injured in a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on Thursday. Although authorities expect these numbers to change, they have since confirmed that the shooter is down. So far, they have confirmed that the shooter is male and presently alive, although it is not clear whether he is connected to the university as a student, faculty member, or in any other way. In the light of this being one among 45 campus shootings this year, people are wondering what Umpqua Community College's security is like. But in truth, that isn't what matters. The real question is how any campus can possibly be prepared to handle gun violence of this nature.
Update: On Friday, it was confirmed that there were nine victim fatalities and that Mercer killed himself after Thursday's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College. On Saturday, there were reports that Mercer handed out a box to a fellow classmate that possibly contained his final note. The note that Mercer left detailed his depression and loneliness. In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Mercer's father wondered how his estranged son was able to obtain 13 guns. Mercer was a student at the college and was enrolled in the writing class where he opened fire. He previously attended a school for mentally unstable children and was briefly enrolled in the U.S. Army in 2008, before he was kicked out a month in for not demonstrating the basic administrative standards required to serve. All of his gunswere purchased legally.
The victims' names were released Friday night: Lucero Alcaraz, 19; Treven Taylor Anspach, 20; Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18; Quinn Glen Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Dale Johnson, 33;Lawrence Levine, 67 (assistant professor); Sarena Dawn Moore, 44.
(Earlier: The shooter was confirmed dead by Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin Thursday afternoon. Hanlin could confirm 10 fatalities and seven injuries. The shooter was identified by the New York Times as Chris Harper Mercer, 26, on Thursday night.)
Umpqua Community College, like most colleges, has an active security team. During the week, four full-time security officers maintain the campus, with another three maintaining the campus part-time on weekends. All of the officers are thoroughly trained. The shooting began at approximately 10:30 a.m. PST, and tweets from students indicated that people were running around the campus at approximately 10:41 a.m. PST. Within eight minutes of that, tweets indicated that a blast had gone out indicating an entire campus lockdown. News reports swiftly informed people within the area to stay in their homes until the shooter was apprehended. It seems as though every measure that could be taken by the college was immediately put into effect.
The shooter reportedly focused on Snyder Hall, a science building on the Umpqua Community College campus. UCC, an area college that caters primarily to adults, has 3,300 full-time and 16,000 part-time students, and is located 180 miles south of Portland. Residents and students are expressing shock that this occurred in a peaceful area. Students are now being bussed off campus to the safety of Roseburg fairgrounds.
It is not clear yet exactly how campus authorities responded to the shooting, but their response seems to have been as swift as possible. But again: The real issue at stake here isn't UCC's security or its preparedness for these shootings, but rather that violent crimes of this nature are happening in the first place.