CRIME

Oregon Sheriff Still Won't Say College Shooter's Name

"You will not hear anyone from this law enforcement operation use his name."
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin (right) and ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Celinez Nunez hold a press conference on
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin (right) and ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Celinez Nunez hold a press conference on Oct. 2, 2015, on the deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin still refused to name the shooter who had killed nine people and wounded nine on Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

The gunman has been identified elsewhere as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. But speaking at a Friday morning press conference, Hanlin said, "Again you will not hear anyone from this law enforcement operation use his name," Hanlin said.

To use his name, the sheriff said, "will only glorify his horrific actions and serve to inspire future shooters."

Hanlin had made similar comments on Thursday night.

Mercer also died at the small, rural college, though authorities haven't said if he turned a gun on himself or was shot by police.

Hanlin said he expects the medical examiner's office to officially identify the shooter.

Often, after a mass shooting, victims' advocates urge the media to avoid using the gunman's name, photo and manifestos. These groups, like Hanlin, argue that shooters crave this very attention and that the media coverage could encourage other individuals to carry out attacks. 

Friday's press conference also noted that 14 guns have been linked to the shooter. Celinez Nunez, an assistant special agent-in-charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that investigators recovered six guns at the scene of the shooting, seven in the shooter's home and one that had been traded in to a gun dealer.

The press conference didn't resolve questions about the shooter's motives. Kortney Moore, an 18-year-old student, had told the local News-Review that the gunman asked students about their religious faith before he fired.

Officials have stayed tight-lipped about Mercer, even as his former neighbors described him as reclusive and awkward to The New York Times. He had recently moved to nearby Winchester, Oregon, from Torrance, California.

Media coverage of the Umpqua shooting has also revealed that in 2013, shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Hanlin wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden opposing new gun control laws. 

On Friday, the sheriff deflected a question about his views on firearms.

"Like I've said numerous times already this morning," Hanlin answered, "my focus is on getting this investigation completed and taking care of the victims and the families of victims."

This article has been updated with revised casualty figures for Thursday's shooting.

PHOTO GALLERY
Umpqua Community College Shooting