ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — A pastor whose daughter survived last week’s deadly rampage in a college classroom told his congregation on Sunday that “violence will not have the last word” in this southern Oregon timber town.
More than 100 people gathered to hear pastor Randy Scroggins speak at New Beginnings Church of God, including his daughter 18-year-old Lacey, who sat in the front row and wiped away tears.
Scroggins said he’s been asked whether he can forgive Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, who killed nine when he opened fire Thursday at Umpqua Community College.
“Can I be honest? I don’t know. That’s the worst part of my job. I don’t know” said Scroggins, his voice cracking with emotion. “I don’t focus on the man. I focus on the evil that was in the man.”
Harper-Mercer killed himself after police arrived on the scene.
Scroggins told those gathered at his church that his daughter survived because she was lying on the floor and partially covered by the body of a fellow student. The gunman thought his daughter was dead.
Scroggins said the community has “come together with strength and courage and compassion. As if to say, ‘we will not be defined by violence’ …Violence will not have the last word in Roseburg.”