ROSEBURG, Oregon – The picturesque campus of Umpqua Community College sits on a hill in the logging community of Roseburg, Oregon, some 180 miles south of Portland.
But the school, which prides itself on its website for providing “a peaceful, safe atmosphere,” was transformed Thursday by a deadly shooting, authorities said.
Oregon’s attorney general says at least 10 people are dead. The sheriff says the gunman was killed during an exchange of gunfire with officers.
“This is not what you’d expect in Roseburg,” said Paula Caudill, who handles sales and marketing at the Abacela winery, which works closely with the college. “Everybody knows everybody here. What’s so heartbreaking is that even if you don’t know someone directly affected by this, you know someone who was.”
- Continuing coverage on the shooting
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- See photos from the scene
- Read more about Umpqua Community College
Roseburg, which has about 22,000 residents, is about 70 miles south of Eugene.
“It’s a beautiful place to live, with valleys and rolling hills and the Umpqua River, where there is a lot of fly fishing,” Caudill said. “The warm climate is more like Northern California than Oregon.”
Earl Jones, who has owned the winery for 20 years, said he was on the campus with his wife about 30 minutes before the shooting. The couple was introducing an intern from Spain to professors in the college’s winery program. Jones said the shooting occurred in the science building, about 200 yards from from where he had visited.
“It’s a very sad time,” he said.
The college’s website said it offers “year-round recreational activities” and “affordable quality college education, lifelong learning opportunities, workforce training and cultural programs for our communities.”
“It’s not a traditional institution of higher learning, as the average age of its 13,600 students was 38 during the 2013-2014 school year,” the website said. “Only 740 of those were full-time students, 2,437 attended part time, and more than 10,000 fell under the umbrella of ‘community education.'”
“This is so out of character for this whole area,” said Rick Francona, a CNN military analyst who lives in the area.
Caudill said the timber industry started to fall off because of the protective status of the spotted owl. Many newcomers arrived to participate in the burgeoning wine industry and attend the college for its winery program.
“We’re a little community, pretty tightknit,” she said.
Said Jones, “Anytime there’s an event of this nature in a community it’s devastating psychologically. This is, too. Our community will be devastated until we understand what happened and why.”