Obama meets Oregon families as 2 more die in campus shootings
ROSEBURG, United States—US President Barack Obama met in Oregon Friday with relatives of victims of a deadly rampage at a community college, as shootings on two more school campuses left two people dead and four wounded.
Hundreds gathered outside the gate to the local airport to greet Obama, where he earned a mixed reception.
While one sign said “Welcome to Roseburg,” others read “Obama is Wrong” and “Nothing Trumps Our Liberty”—clear signs that the president’s visit to the rural, conservative community is not appreciated by all.
Obama delivered an impassioned plea for stricter gun controls after last week’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, in which a 26-year-old gunman shot dead nine people and then committed suicide.
“I’ve obviously got strong feelings about this,” he said during his hour-long meeting with families at Roseburg High School, attended by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who previously updated the president on efforts to support them.
“We’re going to have to come together as a country, but today is about the families,” Obama said.
But the father of one girl who was shot in the back and survived by playing dead accused the president of politicizing the tragedy, and said earlier this week that he had declined an invitation to meet him.
“On principle, I find that I am in disagreement with his policies on gun control, and therefore, we (the family) will not be attending the visit,” Stacy Boylan told Fox News.
The publisher of the local paper, David Jaques, has also denounced the visit, saying Obama was not “welcome here to grandstand for political purposes.”
The city of Roseburg had issued a statement prior to the visit saying such comments did not represent the community as a whole, and that the president would receive a warm welcome.
After meeting with families who lost loved ones, Obama thanked a group of first responders for their service and met with Umpqua Community College leaders to express his condolences.
The October 1 shooting in Roseburg has revived the thorny debate on gun control in America—and two more deadly incidents on Friday were sure to fuel the discussion.
‘Confrontation’ in Arizona
In Arizona, one person was killed and three others suffered multiple gunshot wounds at Northern Arizona University in the city of Flagstaff before the gunman was captured.
The first emergency calls came through to police at 1:20 a.m., when most NAU students would have been in bed.
“Two of our student groups got into a confrontation. The confrontation turned physical and one of our students shot the other students. Four of our students were shot,” said NAU police chief Gregory Fowler.
“We have one student deceased and three others being treated at the Flagstaff medical center.”
The alleged shooter, named by police as 18-year-old freshman Steven Jones, was taken into custody and did not attempt to escape arrest. All the victims were male students.
It was not immediately clear what the confrontation was about, but Jones was cooperating with police, Fowler said.
NAU spokeswoman Cindy Brown told CNN that the incident occurred in a parking lot next to a residence hall on campus, which is a designated “gun-free” zone with 20,000 students.
Students described how they were woken up by a university text message warning them of the shooting or by calls from worried friends and family.
“You don’t expect that in Flagstaff. I never thought it would happen here,” student Megan Aardahl told CNN, describing how her room was just yards from where the shooting took place.
“There is a huge community here and everyone is reaching out and making sure everyone’s okay.”
University president Rita Hartung Cheng said she was “shocked and deeply saddened.”
“This is not going to be a normal day at NAU. Our hearts are heavy,” she added.
One dead in Houston
In Houston, one person was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a campus apartment complex at Texas Southern University, police said, adding that one possible suspect had been detained.
Houston police said the incident “does not involve an active shooter,” but the university nonetheless placed the campus on lockdown and cancelled classes for the rest of the day.
In the wake of the Umpqua killings, Obama angrily called on Congress to do more and warned that failure to act on gun control was a “political decision,” vowing to keep pushing for reform.
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