A mass shooting through eyes of UCC alumni at University of Oregon
Lauren Garetto, Noah McGraw and Jack Heffernan each contributed to this post.
David Kildal, an Umpqua Community College alumnus, was about to leave for a 12 p.m. class at the University of Oregon when he heard about the shooting. Sitting in his class, not knowing if his community was safe, was excruciating.
“There was a lot of waiting and hoping everything was going to be okay,” Kildal said.
Though the University of Oregon Police Department did not identify any physical danger to students as a result of the shooting, the UO community — Douglas County natives or not — felt the impact.
On a wall next to the Starbucks in the Erb Memorial Union, students expressed that impact on long pieces of paper below a prompt that reads: “The UCC tragedy makes me feel…”
Words like “hopeless” and “NUMB” were scribbled next to longer statements about solidarity and gun control.
Former UO student Coleton Baker was on vacation in Alaska when the shooting took place. Three of Baker’s family members were present at UCC – his mother-in-law, cousin and his wife’s cousin. Luckily, no one in his family were injured.
“It’s gut wrenching. It’s something you never expect,” Baker said. You see it on TV, and then you get a phone call saying it’s happening to you, in a community that you grew up in, people you know and respect. You just want to do something. It’s just unreal. You feel for the others.”
Baker grew up in Douglas County, met his wife at UCC and played a major role in the community through playing sports and being a cadet for marine patrol for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. He played basketball at UCC and was a guard for the Oregon basketball team during the 2012-2013 season. Now, he and his family live in Springfield, but he remains an active community member despite his distance.
Logan Wetherell, an alum of UCC and the UO, once took an English class in the same room where the shooting took place.
“In my head, I’m going through which of my professors might’ve been shot,” Wetherell said.
Wetherell was at at work for the Umpqua National Forest when he heard about the shooting. While scrolling through his Facebook feed, he came across multiple posts from friends who were looking for their loved ones.
That’s when he broke down.
Douglas County natives never forget their roots, according to Baker.
“You can take the boy or the girl out of Douglas County, but you just can’t take Douglas County out of them,” Baker said.
UCC is a symbolic center of Douglas County, Kildal said. Baker described the school as a tight-knit community.
“As far as the UCC campus, it’s kind of like high school in a way, it’s a very small community. Everyone kind of knows who you are,” Baker said.
Baker said it was overwhelming waiting for the list of victims’ names to come out that day. Kildal wasn’t able to make sense of the whole matter until he heard the names of the victims.
“It definitely took a while to get my mind around it all,” Kildal said. “When I did hear the names, it kind of hit me then.”
The respect and encouragement of the people from Roseburg and surrounding areas, Baker says, will be what keeps the community strong and closer than ever.
UO President Michael J. Schill sent an email out four hours after the shooting took place. He encouraged affected students and staff at UO to seek counseling from the University Counseling Center, and reminded the community that the UO has a “robust planning, response and notification system” for incidents like this.
“The UO is a community that takes care of one another. Please reach out or speak up if you or someone you know needs help,” Schill wrote.
Members of UO’s Enterprise Risk Services, the department that handles emergency response on campus, have been assisting UCC since the shooting occurred. The UO’s team is one of the only campus departments in the state trained to the national standard, which is one of the reasons they are assisting UCC, said Andre LeDuc, the Executive Director of Enterprise Risk Services.
It’s been 31 years since the UO experienced a shooting. On Nov. 13, 1984, a 19-year-old UO student — clad in combat gear and black facepaint — opened fire with a high powered rifle at Autzen Stadium. He killed one student and injured another before committing suicide.
“Unfortunately, we at the University of Oregon are one of the statistics in the unfortunate line of data around campus shootings,” LeDuc said.
UO has a designated incident management team that deals with most crises on campus, from inclement weather to incidents of violence like the Roseburg shooting.
“In the event of a catastrophic event, UOPD officers would be able to provide immediate police response to campus, and engage a threat directly,” said Kelly McIver, University of Oregon Police Department public information officer. “Those police officers would be able to assist with building searches to clear unsecured areas, and then allow medical personnel to more quickly enter to treat any wounded.”
On Monday Oct. 5, a vigil will take place in the EMU amphitheater to show solidarity with the community. The vigil will begin at 7 p.m.
Baker says the tight-knit community of Douglas County will remain strong.
“Everyone knows who you are, you know who they are. The community itself is just… so close,” Baker said. “It’s a family.”
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.