Oregon shooter allegedly targets Christians; what can we do?


    Diana Nicolay, a former employee of Umpqua Community College, wears a school sweatshirt during a candlelight vigil for those killed during a fatal shooting at the school Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

    As investigators piece together what happened with the horrendous attack in Oregon, one factor stands out: the suspect's alleged targeting of Christians.

    So was religion the motivator and if so, what can be done to prevent other attacks?

    The father of one of the victims relayed what he told her, about what happened in the classroom.

    "Are you a Christian?" He would ask them, "And if you're a Christian, stand-up," and they would stand up. He went on to say, "Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second," recounted Stacy Boylan.

    "I don't want to glorify the shooter. I don't want to glorify his name, I don't want to glorify his cause," stressed Douglas County sheriff John Hanlin.

    That supposed 'cause' or motive would signify the first attack in recent U.S. history specifically targeting Christians. The level of concern?

    Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas said, "Well, we don't know. And maybe that was what he said, what was going on in his life, was he mentally capable, or was he just an evil person. We don't know that."

    Citing religion as reason is nothing new. America has seen this before from the 1999 shooting at a Jewish daycare center in California to the murder of five Amish school children in Pennsylvania nine years ago to the rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.

    "Looking at religion is important as a potential cause but it's not the only kind of issue," explained University of Baltimore Criminologist, Jeffrey Ian Ross.

    In this case, experts say the shooter's alleged frustration with organized religion may just be a hollow excuse but if something more, it's another level of worry for those trying to prevent them.

    "It's not something that should be ignored because of the current discourse, buzz in the United States about religious connections to so many political issues, which respect to the elections, with respect to the pope's visit...that sort of thing."

    While clearly too early to tell exactly what role religion played, investigators are scouring the shooter's social media pages, and writings to look for red flags that could have been noticed or identified with anyone in the future who may want to follow his lead.

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