Update: This story was originally about the 2015 mass shooting in Oregon, which bears terrifying resemblance to the August 2019 mass shooting in El Paso - which also happened on the same weekend as the mass shooting in Ohio.
Over the weekend, two mass shootings occurred across the US. The first, on Saturday night, happened in a Walmart in El Paso - a border city in Texas - where 20 people were killed and 26 injured. The shooter, a 21-year old white man, is suspected of posting an 'anti-immigrant manifesto' on 8chan - an anonymous message board known for it's extremism.
Modelled off 4chan, 8chan gained more traffic after 4chan banned a discussion board inciting misogynistic harassment. Both the 2015 Oregon shooting and the 2019 El Paso shooting have been linked to anonymous messagings boards with 8chan also linked to the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand last year.
In a separate mass shooting on Sunday night, a gunman opened fire in the city centre of Dayton, Ohio killing nine people and injuring 27 others. The 30-second attack was stopped by police as the gunman attempted to enter a crowded bar, carrying an assault-rifle and extra munition while wearing body-armour. It is not yet known whether he was motivated by white nationalism.
These incidents now put the total number of mass shootings in the US at 249 so far in this year alone.
In October 2015, we wrote
Yesterday, over in Oregon, a 26-year-old, UK-born man opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, killing 10 people. President Obama has made a statement detailing how ‘our thoughts and prayers are not enough’. It’s the 41st school shooting this year, and the figure has nearly hit 150 since 2012.
Seven people in total have been wounded, and the gunman was shot and killed by police after a prolonged gunfight, owing to his heavy artillery and protective clothing.
Identified as Chris Harper-Mercer, the gunman reportedly came into a classroom while firing, shooting the teacher point blank, before asking students to stand up if they were Christian. ‘And they would stand up and he said, “Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,”’ the father of a wounded student told CNN. ‘And then he shot and killed them.’
Starting in one building, he then moved to the science building, targeting Christians as he went. ‘We arrived to find multiple patients in multiple classrooms. Law enforcement was on scene and had the shooter neutralised,’ Douglas County Fire Marshal Ray Shoufler told CNN.
Police are investigating a link between a suspicious thread on 4chan, an internet community renowned for its anonymity and, therefore, its often controversial subject matter. The thread, archived here, features an anonymous user warning everyone, ‘Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest’ and ‘Will post again in am, 10 min countdown. Won’t say more to much to prepare [sic]’.
Sickeningly, the response from other users was encouragement – one tells him to ‘DO IT’. Another makes suggestions as to how to go about it: ‘I suggest you enter a classroom and tell people that you will take them as hostages.’
Once it becomes apparent that a shooting actually did take place, the thread becomes even more disturbing: ‘He did it!’ is the general consensus, followed by ‘hi journalists’ and ‘That score, ouch. Not even double digits on current reports’.
If this wasn’t a coincidence, and the anonymous poster is in fact Chris Harper-Mercer, this will be the latest in a string of controversies surrounding 4chan.
In a statement, President Obama condemned gun laws, and spoke about how numb the American people are becoming to school shootings: ‘And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation.
‘Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. “We need more guns,” they’ll argue. “Fewer gun-safety laws.” Does anybody really believe that?’
He continued: ‘Each time this happens, I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens, I’m going to say that we can actually do something about it.’
Thoughts and prayers may not be enough, but ours remain with the families and loved ones of those affected by the shooting.
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.