Police have identified the man suspected of killing nine people in a mass shooting at a US college. President Barack Obama called on Americans to pressure their legislators on firearms policy.
A man killed by police is the suspect in a shooting at a college in Roseburg, a city of about 20,000 people 300 kilometers (180 miles) south of Portland, that left nine people dead and seven badly injured. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told a news conference late Thursday that he could not bring himself to utter the name of the 26-year-old suspect.
"Media will get the name in time," Hanlin said, "but you will never hear me using his name." After the news conference, the sheriff joined mourners at a vigil in a Roseburg park.
Officials at Mercy Medical Center said they expected the four victims taken there to survive. Three other patients went to a hospital in Springfield.
'We become numb'
President Barack Obama challenged voters to elect officials who would defy the firearms industry, which holds broad sway over US politics. In his seventh year as president, Obama has addressed gun violence 15 times after shootings in cinemas , on military bases, in church and even on live television.
"Somehow this has become routine," Obama said. "The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine." He added: "We become numb to this."
The president also released a message targeting the US gun lobby and the lawmakers who support it.
"Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. 'We need more guns,' they will argue. 'Fewer gun safety laws.' Does anybody really believe that?" he asked, adding that opinion polls showed most US gun owners support more restrictive firearm safety laws.
"There is a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in America. So, how can you with a straight face make the argument that more guns will make us safer?" Obama said.
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, said Obama's remarks were meant to exploit the tragedy to advance an "anti-gun agenda."
"For this president to make a political pronouncement is at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory," he said in a statement.
At a campaign event, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said she could not understand why "we are seeing these mass murders happen again and again and again." She added that the United States needs to "get the political will to do everything we can to keep people safe."
The killings have fueled demands for more gun control in the United States. However, the National Rifle Association has previously called for armed guards after school shootings, such as for the 26 people, including 20 children, killed at a Connecticut elementary school and 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.
Public donations to the NRA, which fights restrictions on guns throughout the United States, increased more than 11 percent in the wake of the Newtown shootings, according to media reports.
"I know there is a way to have sensible gun control measures that help prevent violence, prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and save lives," said presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, until recently Obama's perceived successor. "I am committed to doing everything I can to achieve that."
Sheriff Hanlin has himself opposed gun control in the past. Following the Connecticut school shooting just before Christmas 2012, Hanlin wrote to US Vice President Joe Biden to inform him that his department would not enforce measures that risked "offending the constitutional rights of my citizens."
mkg/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)