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Safety, sympathy on minds of many

Outpouring of sympathies from across the state and nation

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Rabbi Moshe Wilheim stands with mourners during a candlelight vigil at a Thursday night City Hall for the victims of the Umpqua Community College shootings.

A few dozen people, including several religious leaders from churches and synagogues, gathered outside City Hall Thursday evening to take turns speaking and being silent over the tragedy at Umpqua Community College.

The somber candlelit vigil heard calls for political action but also self-reflection. Members from the Oregon Symphony added violin music to the collection of people ranging from teenagers to the elderly.

Across Oregon and the nation, reactions poured out to the Roseburg shooting, one of the bloodiest in the nation's history.

The American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees called the Umpqua shooting a "tragedy" but also said it was not unusual.

"We are deeply saddened by these events, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the shooting," they said in a statement. "Sadly, these types of occurrences are not unheard of at community colleges. We are committed to supporting on-campus safety and security measures at our colleges, with a priority emphasis on prevention whenever possible. While campus safety is of the utmost priority, due to their open nature, college and university campuses are susceptible to these types of events."

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Mourners, religious and political leaders filled the City Hall plaza for a Thursday night candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Umpqua Community College shootings.

Reynolds High School the site of a 2014 shooting

The Reynolds School District, which had two students killed in a shooting in June 2014, issued a statement of sympathy Thursday. "Reynolds School District is sad to learn of the tragic events at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Our thoughts go immediately to the victims and their friends and family," the statement said.

In June 2014 a heavily armed 15-year-old Reynolds student, Jared Padgett, killed fellow student, 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman and wounded teacher Todd Rispler before taking his own life as police closed in. Reynolds High School has provided counseling and held multiple events to help students recover from this tragedy.

"Any tragic incident brings up memories for our students, our parents, our staff and our community. Our response includes reaching out to our staff and students and providing any supports they may need," the Reynolds district statement said. "Because we know how deeply this impacts the people and place the focus should be entirely on the community who is suffering and what we can do to assist them in their crisis."

PCC calls UCC 'family'

Portland Community College Sylvania campus' new President Lisa Avery said their public safety officers do regular trainings on lock-down situations as school shootings can happen anywhere.PORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE PHOTO - Portland Community College Sylvania campus president Lisa Avery.

"It’s a terrible day that one hopes will never come to their campus or their state and we’re praying for them,” Avery said. "It’s a small community college family in the state of Oregon and we work closely together.”

PCC interim President Sylvia Kelley said public safety officers have stepped up their patrols and college counselors are offering services to upset students.

"Today’s news from Umpqua is tragic, and we send our prayers to the college and those it serves," Kelley said in an open letter. "Take time today to comfort and support one another."

At Portland State University, President Wim Wiewel issued a statement of condolences, encouraging students to reach out to the counseling center if they needed to.

"I am horrified and deeply saddened by the tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College earlier today. My heart goes out to the victims and their families, as well as to the students, faculty and staff at the college," Wiewel said.

PSU spokesman Scott Gallagher said he did not immediately feel prepared to answer questions about PSU's trainings or policies regarding defense against school shootings.

"There’s lots of possible scenarios and you just can not anticipate what they would do,” Gallagher said of mass shooters.

This is the 142nd time a firearm has been discharged on a school campus since Newtown, Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Police patrol local schools

The Portland Police Bureau announced Thursday afternoon that Chief Lawrence O'Dea asked his chief of operations to step up patrols around local schools to offer a "visible presence and to enhance public safety," according to a news release.

"There is no information to indicate there are any threats to Portland schools related to the tragic events in Roseburg," reads the release. "The Police Bureau has been in contact with local school districts, community colleges and universities to coordinate any public safety needs at the schools."

Bureau officials say they have also offered help to law enforcement dealing directly with the Douglas County tragedy.

Police stressed that anyone with information of a threat of violence should let authorities know, including through Crime Stoppers of Oregon, which can offer tipsters anonymity.

The Gresham Outlook contributed to this report.

Shasta Kearns Moore
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