The names of some of the victims of Chris Harper Mercer’s massacre at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon have been announced. One of those victims was 33-year-old Jason Johnson, who was in his first week at the school.
In a press conference on October 2, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin and ATF Assistant Special Agent Celinez Nunez released some of the horrifying details about the attack.
On October 1, a 26-year-old gunman went to the college in rural Oregon and opened fire inside the classroom of Professor Larry Levine. In total, 10 people were killed with seven more being rushed to a local hospital.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Johnson Suffered With Drug Addiction
According to his mother, Tonja Johnson Engel, said that her son had struggled with drug addiction. In July 2014, he and his brother were arrested and accused of meth possession. Johnson was also charged with a parole violation in that case.
Engel was speaking to NBC News when she said that Jason Dale Johnson was in his first week at Umpqua Community College when he was killed. Her son had turned his life around after completing a Salvation Army rehab program. Tonja Engel told NBC “He started Monday and he was so proud of what he had accomplished, and rightly so. 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.'” She went on to talk about how she had a bad feeling when she heard that shots had been fired on the campus of her son’s college. Deputies came to her home on the night of October 1 to break the devastating news. A friend, Donald Noble, talked about his last experience with Johnson, telling NBC, which involved the deceased man helping Noble fixing his truck. “He was there in 10 minutes, because that’s what he was like, always helping. He took me to the store and then we went to Walmart. So I’m glad I got to see him one last time. He was the most trusting person and he was so loyal.”
2. He Was ‘Proud to Be a Christian’
In a brief statement, Johnson’s family said that he was “proud to be a Christian.” It’s alleged by the victims of Harper Mercer’s rampage that he lined up students and asked what religion they were. Those who replied that they were Christian were shot in the head by Harper Mercer. On that dating site, Harper-Mercer makes it clear that he hated organized religion but regarded himself as a spiritual person. The Johnson family statement read in full:
Jason Johnson, 33, was proud to be a Christian. Jason recently enrolled in school at Umpqua Community College. 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.
3. He Was a Twin
According to a profile in the Oregonian, Johnson’s grandmother, Marlene Griffin, said that Johnson was murdered on her 81st birthday. In that same piece, it’s mentioned that Johnson was a twin. Fellow victim Lucas Eibel was a quadruplet. A family friend told the Oregonian that Johnson had received his GED in April 2015.
4. You Can Help the Johnson Family
Those wishing to help the families of the victims are encouraged to make a donation to the UCC Relief Fund at the Roseburg-based Umpqua Bank or Greater Douglas United Way, reports the Oregonian. Those banks have donated $25,000 to the cause. In addition, the Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg is accepting blood donations on site.
5. He Was a Week Shy of His 34th Birthday
The Oregonian reports that Johnson was a native of Hawaii but had spent most of his formative years in California. He moved to the Roseburg area in 2008 and had been living in community of Winston. Johnson would have turned 34 on October 8.