ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — A gunman opened fire at an Oregon community college Thursday, killing at least a dozen people before dying during a shootout with police, authorities said.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said 13 people were dead after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, about 180 miles south of Portland. It was not immediately clear whether that number also included the 20-year-old gunman.
State police Lt. Bill Fugate told KATU-TV that at least 20 others were hurt.
Authorities offered no immediate word on the gunman’s motive and said they were investigating.
One student said the gunman asked people about their religion before spraying more bullets.
Kortney Moore told the Roseburg News-Review newspaper that she was in a writing class when a shot came through a window. The gunman entered her classroom and told people to get on the ground. The man then started asking people to stand up and state their religion and opened fire.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said the gunman was killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers. The sheriff did not say whether the shooter was killed by officers or took his own life.
“We locked our door, and I went out to lock up the restrooms and could hear four shots from the front of campus,” UCC Foundation Executive Director Dennis O’Neill told the newspaper.
The school has about 3,000 students. Its website was down Thursday, and a phone message left at the college was not immediately returned.
Neither state police nor the sheriff’s office returned calls from The Associated Press seeking details.
The sheriff’s office reported on Twitter that it received a call about the shooting at 10:38 a.m. The local fire district advised people via Twitter to stay away from the school.
Later in the day, students and faculty members were being bused to the county fairgrounds, the sheriff’s office said.
Former UCC President Joe Olson, who retired in June after four years, said the school had no formal security staff, just one officer on a shift.
One of the biggest debates on campus last year was whether to post armed security officers on campus to respond to a shooting.
“I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this,” he said.
Sutherland High School Principal Justin Huntley said some of his former students were in the room where the shooting took place.
The school made counselors available for students.
“It’s a very somber day,” Huntley said. “You take some deep breaths and you just try to get through it.”
Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Gerry Washburn said a large number of Roseburg High School students go straight to UCC after graduation.
“We are a small, tight community, and there is no doubt that we will have staff and students that have family and friends impacted by this event,” he said.
The White House said President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation by Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco. He was to continue receiving updates throughout the day.
The rural town of Roseburg lies west of the Cascade Mountains in an area where the timber industry has struggled. In recent years, officials have tried to promote the region as a tourist destination for vineyards and outdoor activities.
Associated Press writers Steven Dubois in Portland, Oregon; Martha Mendoza in Sana Cruz, California; and Gene Johnson and Donna Blankinship in Seattle contributed to this report.