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Other views: Remembering the Umpqua Community College tragedy

The (Medford) News-Review

Published on September 13, 2017 2:41PM

At long last, nearly two years after the tragedy that struck Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1, 2015, the police released their investigation records about the incident.

For some, the records help provide some answers to the lingering questions about why this horrible event happened. For them, perhaps, it offers a sense of closure. For others, unfortunately, it may reopen old wounds.

We want to once again offer our condolences to all those who suffered injury and loss and trauma that terrible day. And to express our gratitude for the immense bravery of our law enforcement and first responders, along with all those who stepped in to help in the aftermath. Many lives were lost that day, but many also were saved.

To the brave officers who took out the shooter at grave risk to their own lives, we thank you. To the people who pulled out the survivors, rendered aid, transported them to and treated them at local hospitals, we thank you. To all the people who counseled the traumatized, brought candles to the vigil, laid flowers down, gave donations and lined the streets to welcome UCC students when they returned to class, we thank you too.

We also are grateful to the investigators who looked into every aspect of this case. Going through their records, our staff members were able to gain a better understanding of what motivated the killer, of the heroic actions through which he finally was stopped, of what the survivors experienced.

For those seeking answers, we’ve done our best to provide them and will continue to do so. For those not willing to reopen old wounds, we understand if you set down the paper for a few days and look away. That’s OK too.

Some of our readers and others in the community questioned why we chose to name the shooter. In part, the answer is that we are, as journalists, obligated to report the facts and record the history of our time. We understand that some feel to use the name somehow glorifies the shooter or gives him what he wanted.

We disagree.

The shooter hoped that after he murdered his classmates he would join a demon hierarchy in hell. Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, the line blurred between severe mental illness and pure evil.

Speaking his name won’t change that. Fearing his name won’t prevent the next shooting down the line.

Looking the truth square in the eyes, understanding as best we can what happened here — that might help prevent the next one. But there are no guarantees.

The truth is that a very mentally ill young man, one who may have been molested in a church, one who felt he would never have friends, one who identified himself as part black but who hated black men, and one who believed demons spoke to him was able to fill his home with guns. And one terrible day, he used some of them to murder nine people.

The truth is also that we all wish this had never happened in our beautiful community. And that the real Roseburg was revealed not in the shooter’s actions, but in our response to this tragedy.

In the end, the only thing that can defeat the darkness is light.


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