- Reuters/via Myspace account of Chris Harper-Mercer
Christopher Harper-Mercer, the 26-year-old accused of killing nine people and wounding nine more at Umpqua Community College October 1, was discharged from the US Army in 2008 following a suicide attempt, law enforcement officials told The Wall Street Journal.
Harper-Mercer was one month into basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, when he was discharged, though military officials would not confirm the discharge as a matter of policy.
The discharge did not carry any legal penalty and had no effect on Harper-Mercer’s ability to purchase guns legally.
Neither the details of the suicide attempt nor the background of the discharge have been made public. An Army spokesman told The Journal that the discharge could have been for any number of reasons.
The suicide attempt falls in line with media reports painting Harper-Mercer as increasingly troubled. Harper-Mercer graduated from the Switzer Learner Center, a school outside Los Angeles that serves students with a variety of mental-health challenges and learning disabilities.
After moving to Oregon in 2013, Harper-Mercer reportedly became a loner known for his love of guns and hatred of religion. His mother, Laurel Harper, was also a gun enthusiast who would accompany him on trips to shooting ranges in California and Oregon.
The gunman’s two-page note, left at the school, has not been released by law-enforcement officials but reportedly includes remarks about not having a girlfriend.