‘Deep Grief in My Heart’: Family, Friends Mourn Death of Oregon Shooting Victims

Oregon School Shooting

The fourth day of school had barely begun when a gunman opened fire on an Oregon community college campus Thursday, killing nine people and injuring nine others.

At a news conference Friday, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin identified the nine people killed as Lucero Alcaraz, 19; Quinn Glen Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Dale Johnson, 33; Lawrence Levine, 67; Sarena Dawn Moore, 44; Treven Taylor Anspach, 20; and Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18.

The victims, ranging from teens starting college for the first time to adults who were seeking a second career, took different paths to Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.

Levine was an assistant professor of English at the college. The shooter, identified as 26-year-old Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, was enrolled in Levine's writing class where the mass shooting took place, Oregon state police said.

Levine's colleague Melinda Benton told NBC News Levine was an "old-fashioned gentleman" who would leave surprises in his coworkers' mailboxes — mushrooms for her, and fishing flies for another colleague who enjoyed angling.

"You couldn't find a classic he hadn't read and remembered," she said.

Treven Anspach hailed from Sutherlin, Oregon, and, according to officials, the son of a firefighter. His parents called him the "perfect son."

"Treven was one of the most positive young man always looking for the best in life," the 20-year-old's family said in a statement. "Treven was larger than life and brought out the best in those around him."

Rebecka Anna Carnes was also a member of the first responders family. She was the niece of a paramedic and beginning her community college education to explore her interest in pursuing a career in medical services, Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a statement.

"Rebecka's beautiful spirit will be enormously missed," the Oregon Democrat said in a statement.

Sarena Moore was a member of the Grant Pass Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Grants Pass, Oregon, until she moved near UCC to enroll as a student.

The mother of two moved was beginning her third semester in Business, according to a member of the congregation.

Kim Saltmarsh Dietz loved the outdoors, her 18-year-old daughter and her two Great Pyrenees dogs, said Robert Stryk, the owner of Pyrenees Vineyards in Myrtle Creek, where Dietz worked as a caretaker for many years.

Dietz was taking classes at the same college as her daughter, who was unhurt in the shooting, Stryk said.

"That's really the tragedy here, is that this is a woman who was just trying to better herself," he said.

Dietz's ex-husband, Eric, is the vineyard manager, and both were still close friends, Stryk said.

Eric Dietz, who had posted updates on his Facebook page while searching for news of his daughter and ex-wife, on Friday posted a picture of Kim and confirmation of her death "with deep grief in my heart."

Stryk said that the two had met in Southern California, but that Kim Dietz was originally from England.

"She was a very energetic, very kind, kind soul," he said. "Kim was an exceptional woman."

The father of Lucero Alcaraz fought back tears and anger outside of his Roseburg home Friday.

"There is no sense in talking about it. It's in vain," Ezequiel Alcaraz said in Spanish. "What's the point in showing our pain?"

Lucero's sister, Maria Leticia Alcaraz, posted to Facebook about her missing sister, then broke the news that she was dead.

"Never in a million years would I have imagined going through something like this. She was my best friend and my sister," she wrote. "I can't begin to describe how I feel. I'm full of anger, pain, sadness, regret that I didn't get the chance to see her or prevent this from happening."

Maria Leticia Alcaraz wrote of being proud of her sister for getting scholarships that would cover the entirety of her college costs, and for the fact that she was in college honors and wrote that she "would have been a great pediatric nurse."

"You were going to do great things," she wrote.

Jason Johnson had just started his first week at the college, his mother told NBC News Friday.

Tonja Johnson Engel said that her son had struggled with drug abuse, but decided to continue his education after completing a six-month rehab program with The Salvation Army in Portland.

"The other day, he looked at me and hugged me and said, 'Mom, how long have you been waiting for one of your kids to go to college?' And I said, 'Oh, about 20 years,'" Engel told NBC News.

She said that her son kissed her before he left for class Thursday morning.

"Love ya," Engel told NBC her son told her. "I'll see you this afternoon."

In a family statement read by police Friday, Jason's mother said that Jason was proud of himself for enrolling in school, and so was his mom. They felt that Jason had finally found his path. His family says that he will be loved and missed."

In a statement issued Friday, Quinn Glen Cooper's family wrote that "Quinn was funny, sweet, compassionate and such a wonderful loving person."

"He always stood up for people," the statement reads. He was going to take his brown belt test next week, and loved dancing and voice acting and playing Ingress with his older brother, Cody.

"Our lives are shattered beyond repair," his family wrote. We send our condolences to all the families who have been so tragically affected by this deranged gunman. No one should ever have to feel the pain we are feeling. Please remember the victims and their families. Please remember Quinn."

Lucas Eibel's family says the 18-year-old, who was studying chemistry, loved Future Farmers of America and volunteering at Wildlife Safari and Saving Grace animal shelter.

"He was an amazing soccer player," a family statement reads. His family also noted his academic achievements, including graduating Roseburg High School with high academic marks, receiving a Ford Family Foundation scholarship, and receiving an Umpqua Community College scholars award.

Harper-Mercer, who died during a shootout with police, wore a flak jacket and brought at least six guns and five ammunition magazines to the school, ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Celine Nunez said.  Investigators found another seven guns at the apartment he shared with his mother.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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