Chris Harper-Mercer lived in an upstairs apartment with his mother Laurel Harper, a nurse, at an apartment complex in Winchester.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office released documents Friday related to its investigation of the Oct. 1, 2015 shooting, in which Harper-Mercer murdered nine people before killing himself. Among them were a number of interviews that painted a picture of what the shooter was like, or at least how he was viewed by his neighbors.
Some said they didn’t remember him, or knew little about him. Others said he was quiet, that he loved guns or that he was depressed or behaved strangely.
One neighbor, Kevin Nordlund, said Harper-Mercer wouldn’t speak or even nod his head when Nordlund said “hi” to him. He said Harper-Mercer wore survival-type cargo pants and combat boots and walked around with a .45 caliber gun. He carried an umbrella to visit the mailbox when the weather was sunny.
Another neighbor, Kenneth Ewens, described Harper-Mercer as introverted, but said he responded when he said “hi” to him. He said Harper-Mercer was interested in a ham radio he had, and they sometimes talked about that. They were both gun owners, and Ewens said they talked about getting together to go shooting, but never did. While Ewens thought Harper-Mercer was pleasant, when he heard about the shooting, he hoped Harper-Mercer hadn’t done it. However, he told police he wasn’t surprised when he found out.
It was “just one of those things that he couldn’t put his fingers on,” the police report said.
Neighbor Velvet Marks didn’t know Harper-Mercer. She recalled another woman who had lived there, and who said that Harper-Mercer’s mother told her that Harper-Mercer was depressed. She was “looking for a friend for her son,” the report said.
John Anderson, a UPS truck driver, contacted police after seeing Harper-Mercer’s photo on CNN and the internet following the shooting. Anderson recognized him because he had delivered many packages of ammunition to his apartment over the past four or five years. He spoke with Harper-Mercer about 20 times over those years, and described him as being “quiet and somewhat reserved,” but “at the same time kind of creepy.”
Harper-Mercer’s apartment was filled with guns and gun paraphernalia. Police found that he had purchased weapons from several local businesses, including the Mid Oregon Armory on Northeast Stephens, Fred Meyer on Garden Valley Boulevard, Associated Buyers on Northeast Stephens and the Roseburg Gun Shop on Diamond Lake Boulevard. He had also purchased weapons in Torrance, the Southern California city where he used to live.