Oregon College Shaken by Massacre Reopens

ROSEBURG, ORE. (Reuters) -
A sign welcomes students back to Umpqua Community College, Monday, in Roseburg, Oregon.  (AP Photo/John Locher)
A sign welcomes students back to Umpqua Community College, Monday, in Roseburg, Oregon. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Students still shaken from the deadly mass shooting at an Oregon community college days ago were welcomed back to campus Monday by grief counselors and words of encouragement from faculty, but classes remained canceled through the week.

The White House later in the day said President Barack Obama, who spoke out forcefully in favor of stricter gun control measures after the massacre, planned to visit Roseburg on Friday to meet privately with families of the victims.

Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich, a Republican and self-described supporter of gun rights in the former timber community 180 miles south of Portland, said he welcomed the Democratic president to visit when the White House called on Monday to ask whether Obama should make the trip.

“I said, ‘Yes, he should come here. He’s our president and we would love to have him here,’” the mayor said. He added that if there were a funeral for any of the victims the day of Obama’s visit, the president would attend.

The first such service has been scheduled for Thursday, one week after the killings, for Jason Johnson, 33, who was slain with seven other students and their English professor by a troubled classmate.

Nine more people were wounded in the rampage, which ended with the gunman taking his own life.

Four days after the shooting spree, the campus of Umpqua Community College was reopened to students and staff to allow them to retrieve vehicles and other belongings left behind in the pandemonium of last Thursday.

The reopening also was aimed at helping restore a sense of normalcy on campus before classes and other activities at the college of some 13,000 students — about 3,000 enrolled full time — were set to resume next Monday, school officials said.

The gunman, Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, stormed into his writing class to shoot his professor, then began picking off cowering classmates one at a time as he questioned them about their religion, according to survivors’ accounts.

Authorities have revealed little of what they may know about Harper-Mercer’s motives.