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Ten dead, 7 injured at Oregon community college

"We need a lot of prayer at this point," Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice said.

By Doug G. Ware and Shawn Price
1/10
Ten dead, 7 injured at Oregon community college
Umpqua Community College students and staff reunite with loved ones at Douglas County Fairgrounds in Roseburg, Oregon, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, after a shooter killed several people on campus in southern Oregon. The American Red Cross set up an aid station. Photos by Cree Adamson for UPI

ROSEBURG, Ore., Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Ten people were shot dead Thursday by a gunman at a small community college in southern Oregon, and seven others were injured before the shooter was killed by police, authorities said.

The shooting began at about 10:40 a.m. local time inside a science building on campus at Umpqua Community College in the town of Roseburg, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. After shooting numerous people, the gunman was confronted and killed by responding officers, he said.

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Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbaum said earlier that at least 13 people died, Portland's KGW-TV reported, but officials later adjusted the toll to 10.

Authorities said seven others were wounded in the attack.

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The New York Times and CBS news say local law enforcement officials identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, from the Roseberg area. Authorities say Mercer had three weapons, but it is not known if he used all of them. A witness also told authorities that Mercer asked religious people to stand before he began shooting.

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"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said at a news conference in Portland, noting that the gunman was in his 20s. It wasn't immediately known whether he was a student at Umpqua.

"Thank you for your work, as this community reels from grief," she said in thanking the first responders before she departed for Roseburg.

Several officials joined the governor in praising the initial police response. KGW reported that the gunman was shot 11 minutes after the first 911 call to report the shooting was made.

President Barack Obama expressed sorrow over having seen this scenario too many times since he has taken office.

"I hope and pray I don't have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer condolences to the families in these circumstances," he said. "But based on my experience as president, I can't expect that. And that's terrible to say."

"This is really kind of a shock for a community this size," a Douglas County Sheriff's deputy told KGW-TV. "My granddaughter attends [the college] and by the grace of God she was sick today."

Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice, who was elected in the small, tight-knit community last November and took office in January said, "I probably know someone whose family was impacted by this first hand."

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"We need a lot of prayer at this point," he added.

A mass emergency response took place in Roseburg, authorities said. Several medical helicopters were sent to the region to attend to at least six critically injured victims, The Oregonian reported.

Authorities with several jurisdictions responded to the shooting, including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and numerous law enforcement agencies are assisting in the investigation.

"We have got a tremendous amount of law enforcement help," Sheriff Hanlin said, noting help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Marshals Service.

"This would be a disaster level response," Jim Godbold, director of communications at PeaceHealth Riverbend Hospital, said.

The college, which has about 3,000 students, is located about 180 miles south of Portland.

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