Obama meets Oregon shooting victims’ families amid protests

Obama meets Oregon shooting victims’ families amid pro and anti gun demonstrations in Roseburg

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US President Barack Obama speaks immediately after meeting with families of victims of the shooting rampage in Roseburg, Oregon October 9, 2015.

US President Barack Obama met in private on Friday with the families of the Oregon shooting.

The shooting took place last week in Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, and was carried out by Christopher Harper-Mercer. Nine people were killed before the gunman killed himself.

President Obama in the meeting with the victims' families stressed that the American nation must “come together” to prevent such tragedies.

“We’re going to have to come together as a country, but today is about the families,” Obama said, adding, “I’ve obviously got very strong feelings about this.”

"There are going to be moments as we go forward where we're going to have to come together and figure out how do we stop things like this from happening," Obama said in brief remarks after meeting with families.

"I've got very strong feelings about this because when you talk to the families you are reminded this could be your child ... or your mom or your dad or your relative or your friend," he said.

After meeting with the families Obama met with leaders of the college to express his condolences to their community and expressed appreciation for the “help, thoughts and prayers” of the college’s community and the country.

Obama’s visit came amid protests from pro-gun rights activists who gathered in the streets and accused the president of exploiting the tragedy to push through legislation on gun-control.

Don Moody, 59, of Seattle, protests visit by US President Barack Obama to Roseburg, Oregon, outside of the Roseburg High School October 9, 2015 / Photo by Reuters

Early in the morning, protesters began gathering in the town of about 21,000 ahead of the president's arrival.

Roseburg resident Gary Schoeller said that Obama is trying to “make it harder and harder for law-abiding citizens to acquire firearms or firearms permits,” adding “I believe had at least one person had a firearm in that classroom, that man would not have been able to kill as many people as he did.”

Many of protesters were holding placards in their hands with slogans such as “prayers not politics” and “Obama go home” written on them.

Jeff Hill (R), 60, of Chiloquin, protests the visit by US President Barack Obama to the town of Roseburg, Oregon October 9, 2015 Photo by Reuters

Other groups of protesters held placards supporting Obama with “Welcome” written on them.

On the same day as Obama's visit the US was faced with two other shooting incidents in Arizona and Texas in two other campuses.

One person was shot dead and another injured in a shooting at a campus apartment complex at Texas Southern University in Houston, police reported. 

And one person was killed and three others were injured after a gunman opened fire at a Northern Arizona University where 20,000 students are registered in Flagstaff, Arizona. 

According to a White House spokeswoman, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has been doing her to help the families impacted by the shooting.

President Obama's visit to Roseburg came after he offended gun rights advocates with comments he made soon after the shooting.

Obama had said, “This is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.”

After Obama’s visit White House officials said they weren't seeking to politicise his visit to Roseburg.

The region where the shooting took place has been bastion for conservatives and pro-gun advocates for a long time.

In Oregon State’s Douglas County, where Roseburg is located, Obama won only 34 percent of the vote in the November 2012 presidential election.

TRTWorld and agencies