According to the New York Post, two witnesses say that the mass shooter hunted Christians, executing them while shooting to wound others.
When I listened to the CNN news radio program there was some speculation as to whether the Umpqua Community College shooter (or shooters, it wasn’t certain that there was only one) was a terrorist. This raised the issue of whether or not it was possible that the attack was “domestic terrorism”—which was then identified with some kind of white supremacy ideology.
It is strange to me that we accept these simple definitions. Why couldn’t “domestic terrorism” also include violent acts by someone like the Black Panthers? Or why couldn’t Islamic terrorism committed by people born in the United States as citizens be considered domestic terrorism?
As it turns out, though, the shooter may have been an atheist committing terrorism against Christianity. According to the New York Post, “Oregon gunman singled out Christians during rampage.”
A woman who claimed to have a grandmother inside a writing class in Snyder Hall, where a portion of the massacre unfolded, described the scene in a tweet.
“The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were Christian,” she wrote. “If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs. My grandma just got to my house, and she was in the room. She wasn’t shot, but she is very upset.”
The article also described a second witness:
Kortney Moore, an 18-year-old student at Umpqua Community College who was also in the room, told Oregon’s News Review that the shooter was indeed on the hunt for Christians.
Moments after hearing a bullet come flying through a window, she said the 20-year-old shooter made his way inside and targeted their teacher, pumping a single round into their head.
As the young man ordered people to the ground, Moore laid patiently with her classmates and waited, according to the News Review.
Once they all got down, she said the gunman began asking people to rise and say what their religion was. After they stood and gave their answer, he started shooting.
I’ve seen a couple of blogs identifying the shooter, Chris Harper Mercer, as an atheist. According to the Daily Beast, Harper listed “organized religion” as one of his “dislikes.” Somehow he still identified as a conservative Republican. He also said he was “not religious, but spiritual” on his dating profile (see here).
It will be interesting to see how the media spins this. Are they going to claim he is an example of those “dangerous” conservatives? Or will they acknowledge that this was an anti-Christian attacker? Since Mercer identified as “mixed race” I trust the “white supremacy” possibility will be discounted.