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Father of Oregon Victim Says Gunman Targeted Christians


Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Greg Kennerly, left, and Oregon State Trooper Tom Willis, stand guard outside the apartment building, Oct. 2 2015, where alleged Umpqua Community College gunman Chris Harper Mercer lived, in Roseburg, Ore. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Greg Kennerly, left, and Oregon State Trooper Tom Willis, stand guard outside the apartment building, Oct. 2 2015, where alleged Umpqua Community College gunman Chris Harper Mercer lived, in Roseburg, Ore. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The father of a victim in the Oregon college shooting says the gunman targeted Christians.

Stacy Boylan spoke to CNN television Thursday night. He said his daughter described the attack to him at the hospital. He said she told him that the gunman asked people what religion they were. If they answered “Christian,” he shot them, she reportedly told her father.

The shooter was identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. His father, Ian Mercer, spoke on camera to the Reuters news service. Mr. Mercer said that he was “shocked.”

Carmen Nesnick is the stepsister of Chris Harper Mercer. She said her brother, “even if he was sad or mad, would try to cheer up everybody.”

The shooter reportedly raided a classroom at a small college in rural Oregon. He reportedly shot at teachers and students, killing at least nine people and injuring 20 others.

The New York Times reported that neighbors of the suspect described him as reclusive. They said he kept to himself. He often wore military-type clothing, one said, although it was not known if he ever served in the military.

He reportedly made comments on social media and added photographs of the Irish Republican Army. He posted a photo of himself and others with weapons.

President Barack Obama reacted angrily to the shooting on television and the Internet. He demanded that the American people push Congress to pass "common sense" gun laws. He said the majority of Americans, including many gun owners, want stronger gun laws.

The president said Americans have become numb to mass shootings in the U.S. He said such attacks have become routine. He said that more guns do not make people safer. He said that arguments in support of unregulated guns could not be taken seriously.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Kathleen Struck wrote this story for VOA Learning English, with additional reporting from Reuters and The New York Times. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

reclusive – adj. staying alone or by oneself

numb – adj. lacking the power of sensation; lack of feeling

unregulated – v. not controlled by law or government action

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