Oregon Shooting: 'Are you a Christian?' gunman asks students before opening fire

Mourners take part in a candlelit vigil after the Oregon college shooting.Reuters

The gunman who opened fire at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday, asked students if they were Christian and then shot them.

Christians from across the country have responded to the event.

The father of Anastasia Boylan, 18, who was shot by Chris Harper Mercer and survived by "playing dead", shared his daughter's account of the shooting:

"He was able to stand there and start asking people one by one what their religion was.

"'Are you a Christian?' he would ask them, and 'if you are a Christian then stand up' and they would stand up. He'd say 'because you are a Christian you're going to see God in about one second' and then he shot and killed them. And he kept going down the line doing this to people."

A candlelit prayer vigil was held in Roseburg on Thursday evening, hours after the shooting occurred.

"In our sorrow, we will remember and honour those lost here today," Gov. Kate Brown told the crowd. "And in this way, they will live forever in our hearts."

The college's interim president, Rita Cavin, asked people to share their love, not their anger, with those affected.

"Anger caused this, and we can't have anger around us right this minute."

One woman in the crowd said she thought the shooter and his family should be included in the prayers:

"I don't know the grief I would feel if it were my child who did this," said Barbara Contreras, a mother of six. "They're going to feel such guilt. They lost their child tonight, too."

A local church, New Life Christian Center, hosted an urgent prayer meeting on Thursday evening and remained open throughout the evening offering grief counselling with pastors from across the area.

At 6:30pm tonight we are calling for an urgent prayer meeting to cover our community in the midst of the crises that...

Posted by New Life Christian Center Roseburg on Thursday, 1 October 2015

Barack Obama spoke about the shooting at Umpqua Community College yesterday, noting the tragic fact that this is becoming a regular occurrence in USA.

"As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough," Obama said. "It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America next week or a couple of months from now."

He added, "Somehow, this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this."

"Each time this happens, I am going to say that we can actually can do something about it, but we're going to have to change our laws," he said. "I hope and pray that I don't have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can't guarantee that — and that's terrible to say. And it can change."

Contrary to Obama's reaction, Pastor Ron Laeger, leader of the Wellspring Bible Fellowship in Oregon, told BBC breakfast he thought arming students was the answer.

"Had students had those weapons they could have fought back and protected themselves," he said.

This response has caused outrage on social media, as people call for guns to be banned rather than their possession encouraged. 

Franklin Graham responded to the tragedy soon after the event, calling people to join him in prayer. 

My prayers are for the families of those who have been killed and all those wounded in the tragic shooting today in...

Posted by Franklin Graham on Thursday, 1 October 2015