Oregon shooting: Families, friends grieve for massacre victims

Students and staff of Umpqua Community College arrive at the Douglas County Fairgrounds Complex where they were offered grief counselling and a bus ride back to campus to pick up their possessions and vehicles on Oct 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon.
Students and staff of Umpqua Community College arrive at the Douglas County Fairgrounds Complex where they were offered grief counselling and a bus ride back to campus to pick up their possessions and vehicles on Oct 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon.PHOTO: AFP

ROSEBURG, Oregon (REUTERS)- Larry Levine, 67, was a college English instructor with a love of fly-fishing. Lucero Alcaraz, 19, was an honors student with hopes of becoming a pediatric nurse. Rebecka Carnes, 18, was a teenager fresh out of high school, excited about her future.

A photo of a smiling Carnes posted to social media on Friday showed her holding up a sign on graduation day that read, "And so the adventure begins..." But Carnes, along with Levine and Alcaraz, were among nine people shot and killed in a rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday morning by gunman Chris Harper-Mercer, 26.

Mercer stormed into a classroom at the college and executed people after asking them about their religion. In addition to those killed, another nine were injured.

Harper-Mercer, who authorities said left a cache of weapons at the crime scene and at his home in nearby Winchester, about 273 km south of Portland, was killed in a gunfire exchange with police.

Few details about the shooter's motive have emerged, but authorities said Harper-Mercer was a student at the school and enrolled in the class where the shooting took place.

Law enforcement officials named all victims late on Friday.

Along with Carnes, Levine and Alcaraz, Quinn Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Johnson, 33; Sarena Moore, 44; and Treven Anspach, 20, were killed, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. "I don't know how we're going to move forward without Quinn," Cooper's family said in a statement released by the sheriff's office. "No one should ever feel the pain that we are feeling." Johnson's family said he was a proud Christian who had recently decided to return to school. "Jason had finally found his path," it said.

The family of Eibel, a chemistry student who received multiple academic scholarships, said he loved wildlife and volunteered with animals. "He was (also) an amazing soccer player," their statement said.

Before any announcement, friends gathered to mourn Levine, who was teaching in the classroom where the shooting occurred.

Levine, a native New Yorker, had published articles in fly fishing magazines and had written more than one unpublished novel, a friend, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

On social media on Friday, family members of the dead were posting messages about their lost loved ones. "Sister, I miss you, I love you, and I wish I could see you walk through the front door right this second," Maria Alcaraz, who identified herself as the older sister of Lucero Alcaraz, wrote on Facebook. "I'm full of anger, pain, sadness, regret that I didn't get the chance to see her or prevent this from happening."

Maria Alcaraz said her sister was an exceptional student who had received scholarships to pay in full her community college education.

The family of Rebecka Carnes, who went by "Becka," said on Facebook that the teenager had just started a new job and began classes this week to eventually become a dental hygienist. "I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have watched Becka grow up," cousin Lisa Crawford wrote. "This isn't how life is supposed to work."