The Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon in which the gunman was said to have targeted Christians, based on some eyewitnesses' accounts, was not just a "violent crime," according to televangelist Pat Robertson. He believes the deadly assault had a spiritual influence, and the gunman's own alleged manifesto would seem to support such an assertion.
"I just say that — our heart goes out to those people when you think of the bravery, but that man was a satanist," Robertson said Tuesday. "He was a satanist. He wanted to be a prince in Lucifer's army. He made it clear. So we weren't dealing with some 'gun violence.' What we're dealing with is satanic violence against people of faith."
"And it shames us all. To think many times that you are in a crowd and they say, 'Do you know the Lord?' [and you say], 'Well, I'm not sure,' [that kind of thing]. 'Do you want to carry your Bible?' [And you say] 'Well, not really, I don't want to be embarrassed.' And those people were willing to stand up and take a bullet, be shot dead because of the name of Jesus. It humbles us all," Robertson added.
Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, was identified by authorities as the gunman who killed nine people and injured nine others on Oct. 1 at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He was also an enrolled student at the school.
Some eyewitnesses to the shooting said Harper-Mercer specifically asked his victims whether they were Christians, and if they applied in the affirmative, he then shot them in the head.
NBC News reported on high school student Autumn Vicari, whose "19-year-old brother, J.J., was in a room filled with students at the college when the gunman entered."
Vicari said her brother told her that "at one point the shooter told people to stand up before asking whether they were Christian or not." Those who said "yes" were shot in the head and if they said "other" or did not give a response, "they were shot elsewhere in the body, usually the leg," she said. Vicari told the news network that her brother believed he was able to escape because the gunman did not see him.
Kortney Moore, an 18-year-old student, said she was in a classroom that the gunman entered. Moore said he "was asking people to stand up and state their religion and then started firing away," according to NRToday.com.
Another student, wounded by the gunman, gave her father a similar account of the shooter's question about religion, according to CNN.
"Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, who was wounded, said she told him the gunman singled out Christians," the news network reported.
When students stood up, the gunman purportedly said, "'Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second.' And then he shot and killed them," Boylan said his daughter told him.
Another student in the classroom that Harper-Mercer entered countered claims that the gunman specifically targeted Christians.
"Obviously he was asking what religion, but he wasn't really just targeting. He was kind of just saying, 'Oh, since you have a God, you'll be joining him in a little bit,'" the student, Rand McGowan, told the Daily News. "It wasn't really like, 'I'm targeting you and I'm going to kill you.'"
McGowan, who was shot in the arm, also revealed that the gunman indicated he did not plan to be taken alive by authorities.
"He kind of mentioned periodically that basically he was going to shoot himself," McGowan said. "He was like, 'I'll be joining you guys in a little bit.' That kind of thing."
Law enforcement officials disclosed that Harper-Mercer killed himself before he was apprehended on campus.
Officials have not revealed a motive for the attack in which eight students and one teacher were killed. The victims were identified as: Lucero Alcaraz, 19; Quinn Glen Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Dale Johnson, 33; Lawrence Levine, 67; Sarena Dawn Moore, 44; Treven Taylor Anspach, 20 and Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18.
In writings reportedly recovered from Harper-Mercer's computer, the gunman is portrayed as feeling hopeless, identifying with other mass shooters, and determined in his actions.
People.com, which cites a source close to the investigation, reported Monday:
Mercer then purportedly expresses skepticism that anything could have turned his life around: "He asks, 'What was supposed to happen? What great event was supposed to make me realize I had so much going for me?' " the source says.
Abandoned and alone, Harper-Mercer allegedly writes, "I've been forced to align myself with these demons and become one of them. At first, it was involuntary, but now I am aligned with them. I now serve. When I die I will become one of them."
He adds: "My success in Hell is assured."
People.com notes in its report that the unnamed source only read parts of Harper-Mercer's alleged manifesto to the publication and it did "not received a copy of this document nor confirmed its existence."
Harper-Mercer's manifesto also refuted claims by others who thought he was "crazy," and asserted that in fact he was "the sane one," according to another unidentified official with access to the document, The Associated Press reported.
Harper-Mercer, who was discharged in 2008 from the U.S. Army for "failing to meet the minimum administrative standards" while still in basic training, suffered from poor mental health, according to his mother.
Law enforcement officials recovered 14 legally purchased guns from the home Harper-Mercer shared with his mother, who is also reportedly a gun enthusiast. He had six guns in his possession when he carried out the attack at Umpqua Community College, The New York Times reports in an article about the gunman's mother's writings on the Internet.
Local Roseburg Pastor Randy Scroggins, addressing his New Beginnings Church of God congregation on Sunday, shared his thoughts on whether he could forgive the 26-year-old gunman.
"Can I be honest? I don't know. That's the worst part of my job. I don't know. I don't focus on the man. I focus on the evil that was in the man," Scroggins said.