The day after 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer shot and killed at least nine people on the Umpqua Community College (UCC) campus the nation is still reeling with shock and grief. And, of course, many are — on cue — using this tragedy to blame guns. Meanwhile, we are beginning to learn more about the shooter’s mental state that led him to commit such a horrific act. We reported earlier about his questioning victims about their religion — and apparent targeting of Christians — as well as his activity on the bulletin board “4Chan,” many of whose users are obsessed with death and suicide, see themselves as outsiders and resent “normies” – anyone conventional or mainstream.
Now, a new report suggests another possible facet of Mercer’s motive for gunning down so many innocent lives.
A new report claims someone appearing to be Mercer wrote longingly of the attention given to Vester Lee Flanagan after he shot a television reporter and cameraman on air in Virginia.
Mercer wounded at least seven people in addition to those he killed on the gun free UCC campus, law enforcement says.
According to CBS News, a blog which appears to be Mercer’s “[referenced] multiple shootings,” including the shooting carried out by Flanagan on August 26.
Regarding Flanagan, Mercer allegedly wrote:
I have noticed that so many people like [Flanagan] are alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.
During an evening press conference on the attack, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin asked media not to use the gunman’s name–not to give him the celebrity he may have been seeking via the attack.
How much of Mercer’s reported longing for limelight was fueled by our Kardashian-ized culture — where it seems anyone doing something outside the norm is rewarded with their own 15 minutes of fame? Where it seems one’s actions are only “real” and “valid” after one’s shared them with hundreds or thousands of people, through social media or by grabbing the attention of the mainstream media? And yet, so many remain feeling isolated.
Media outlets, too, are asking questions about how to discourage future limelight-seekers such as Mercer. I have heard conservative talk show hosts proclaiming they will not mention the shooter’s name after the first day of reporting. It’s a tough balancing act, as audiences are eager to know every possible detail about the shooter — in a naturally human attempt to understand why such evil is committed.
As Mercer was shot and killed yesterday by officers, our view into his psyche will be limited to what he left behind. The message blog suggests new questions that should be posed about the cause of such sick behavior. And are a reminder that yes, people — not guns — kill; there is a sick individual pulling the trigger that slays.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse]