'Lucky' student adds details on Oregon shooter's selective killing of Christians

Heidi Wickersham (left), 31, comforts her sister Gwendoline Wickersham, 28, during a candlelight vigil for victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting in Winston, Oregon, on Oct. 3, 2015.Reuters

The "lucky" student whose life was spared by the gunman during the Oct. 1 rampage at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, finally got the chance to tell his story of what happened that day.

Mathew Downing, 18, recounted how his classmate, 26-year-old gunman Christopher Harper-Mercer, entered their classroom at Umpqua Community College and began shooting their professor and then their fellow classmates.

Downing recalled how Mercer questioned his victims about religion before ending their lives brutally. He said Mercer gunned down at least one student who identified himself as a Christian and another student who identified himself as a Roman Catholic. This particular detail was also mentioned in the accounts of other survivors.

"The shooter ... asked one of the other students to stand up and when he did asked him if he was religious. The student said he was Christian and was shot," Downing said in a statement, as quoted by NBC News.

"He then had another student stand up and asked him the same, when he answered Catholic the shooter then asked if he believed in the afterlife. The student said I don't know and the shooter thanked him for standing up for his beliefs and shot him," Downing said.

Ten people were killed during the rampage, including the gunman who shot himself after he was wounded by gunfire from two detectives who were the first responding lawmen on the scene. Nine others obtained injuries during the shooting.

Downing also recounted how he escaped from the bloody incident, after Mercer picked him to deliver a flash drive to the police.

"He looked directly at me and said hey kid with the glasses you are the lucky one, I will not shoot you if you give this to the cops," the student said in the statement.

"I stood up and he pointed the gun at me and this is the moment I thought I was going to die," Downing added. "He paused for a second and then handed the envelope to me and said to sit in the very back seat and face him."

He added that nobody expected the shooting incident to happen that day—an ordinary school day.

"It was about 30 or 40 minutes into the class when I heard a couple of shots fired, I couldn't hear anything when he had walked in because my ears were ringing so badly," he said.

Downing further said he released a statement detailing what he witnessed to "get my story out in a way that I feel comfortable."

"The final thing I want to add is that I and everybody else should get from this is that any day could be your last," Downing said in his statement.

"You don't want anybody's last memory of you to be a bad one so everybody needs to take it upon themselves to just be a lot nicer to people," he added.