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Merciless gunman shot woman in a wheelchair, Oregon survivor says

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Posted at 4:05 PM, Oct 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-04 18:05:18-04

By Melissa Gray

CNN

(CNN) — He showed no mercy. He ordered his victims to the ground and shot them even if they complied. He asked them their religion but shot them no matter the answer. He even shot a woman in a wheelchair.

The description of the shooting that left nine dead at Umpqua Community College in Oregon came from one of the survivors, a woman who was shot in the hand. She talked to CNN’s Sara Sidner in an exclusive interview.

“I was sitting in the front of the classroom facing the teacher when everything happened,” said the woman, who requested anonymity. “He just came in and shot towards the back of the wall and told everybody to get in the center of the room and on the ground.”

The shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, was enrolled in the English class that he targeted Thursday.

He had guns and wore body armor, the woman said, and seemed determined to shoot. He didn’t appear anxious or stressed, but rather “he seemed happy about it,” she said.

The woman, a mother of three, said she’s just happy to be alive. She and two other people were the only ones able to walk out of the classroom. Everyone else was either too wounded — or dead.

Sidner’s full interview with the woman will air Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”

Disabled woman was targeted

The victims ranged in age from 18 to 67 and included a woman in a wheelchair who had a service dog, she said.

“When he came in, he told everybody to get on the ground. Everybody tried to huddle to the ground,” she said, including the woman in the wheelchair.

“She got off the chair, she went on the ground and then he told her to get back on the chair. And then she tried to climb back on the chair, and then he shot her.”

Relatives of two wounded victims have said the gunman asked his victims about their religion before he shot them.

One victim, Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, didn’t answer and was shot in the back, her mother said. Another victim, Anastasia Boylan, told her father the gunman asked specifically whether they were Christians.

The survivor who spoke to CNN also said the gunman asked about religion. But she said it didn’t seem to matter, because he shot some people even before he asked.

“I don’t think he was really targeting them,” she said. “I honestly don’t think he was targeting anybody. He just wanted to do it for fun. ‘Cause he still shot every single one that he asked. So I don’t think he was actually targeting a specific religion.

Covered in someone else’s blood, expecting to die, the woman said she played dead. Her head was on the ground and she tried not to look up so the shooter wouldn’t see she was still alive.

Gunman owned 14 firearms

A timeline released by investigators shows that the first 911 call about the shooting came at 10:38 a.m.

Six minutes later, two police officers and a state trooper arrived on the scene, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said. At 10:46 a.m., the officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter, and two minutes later, there was a report of “suspect down,” according to the timeline.

Hanlin said the state medical examiner determined the gunman’s death was a suicide. State police are investigating the shootout.

Investigators have found 14 firearms connected to the shooter, authorities said. Five pistols and one rifle were found at the college and the others were at his apartment, Celinez Nunez of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.

The gunman’s father, Ian Mercer, says he was unaware his son had any firearms.

Those killed are 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, 34; Lawrence Levine, 67; and Sarena Dawn Moore, 44.

Ages of Umpqua’s students vary widely. Of its 13,600 students, the average age was 38 during the 2013-2014 school year.

CNN’s Sara Sidner, Kyung Lah, Faith Karimi and Ryan Young contributed to this report.