Obama on Mass Shootings: 'This Is a Political Choice That We Make'
A gunman killed nine people and wounded seven others on a college campus Thursday.
Updated on October 1 at 11:28 p.m. ET
At least nine people are dead and seven are injured after a shooting at a community college in Oregon on Thursday.
Shots were reported at Umpqua Community college in Roseburg at 10:38 a.m. local time, prompting a massive police response. The gunman, identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer by multiple media outlets, was later killed in an exchange of fire with law-enforcement officers, said Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin Thursday afternoon. No officers were injured. The shooter’s motives are not yet known.
A visibly frustrated President Obama delivered remarks about the shooting Thursday night. Before he walked up to the podium, CNN said this speech was the president’s 15th on mass shootings since he took office.
“As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” he said. “It's not enough.”
The president said the reaction to such shootings has become “routine.”
“We’ve become numb to this,” he said. “We talked about this after Columbine, Blacksburg, Tucson, Newtown, Aurora, after Charleston.”
He added: “What's also routine is that somebody, somewhere, will comment and say, ‘Obama politicized this issue.’ This is something we should politicize. … This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America.”
Oregon Governor Kate Brown expressed her “profound dismay” at the incident. Congressman Pete DeFazio, whose district includes Roseburg, said in a statement that “once we know more about what happened today, I plan to work with my colleagues in Congress to find ways to prevent tragedies such as these.”
A school official said during a press conference Thursday night that Umpqua will be closed Friday, and reopen on Monday.
Authorities bused students to the nearby Douglas County Fairgrounds, local media reported, where grief counselors were on hand to meet with students, staff and their families. The community college, about 70 miles south of Eugene, Oregon, has about 3,000 students.
A student who was in the classroom adjacent to the room where shots broke out told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that she heard “a popping sound, almost like a balloon popping when you have too much air.”
She said her classmates got down under their desks. One classmate opened the door of the room to see what was happening, she said, and the gunman shot her.