A 20-year-old gunman opened fire at a community college in the US state of Oregon on Thursday, killing up to 9 people before he died in a shootout with police.
The shooter opened fire inside a classroom at Umpqua Community College in rural Roseburg, reportedly moving to other classrooms and methodically gunning down his victims.
Police were alerted shortly after 10:30 and rushed to the site where the tragedy was unfolding, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told a news conference.
"Upon arriving there they located the shooter in one of the buildings," Hanlin said, adding that police exchanged fire with the gunman who was later confirmed dead.
Governor Kate Brown identified the shooter only as a male aged 20. It was not yet known if he was a student at the college.
"There are confirmed injuries and there are confirmed fatalities," Sheriff Hanlin said. "I\’ve heard varying numbers and I don\’t want to report on a number that is inaccurate."
President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation, and asked to be updated as it unfolds, a US official said.
The US Senators from Oregon Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden from Oregon both tweeted words of support for the victims and the Roseburg community.
The college was immediately placed on lockdown as firefighters, police and concerned parents rushed to the site.
Douglas County fire Marshall Ray Shoufler said earlier that firefighters had evacuated 11 injured from the college, of whom two had died.
Shoufler described Roseburg as a small close-knit timber community with many locals attending the college which caters to some 3,300 students.
"Most of us have relatives taking classes here," he said. "Pretty much everybody knows everybody type scenario.
"So something like this affects many, many, many people."
Authorities said investigators were examining social media postings thought to belong to the shooter.
Several reports said he may have shared his intentions online before the shooting.
Police searched the entire campus after the shooting aided by sniffer dogs and patted down students and staff as they left and boarded buses that transported them to local fairgrounds.
School shootings are a disturbing reality of American life and many facilities have reinforced security in recent years, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.
Twenty students and six adults were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.
On Wednesday, a student who got into an argument with the principal at a high school in South Dakota pulled a gun and shot the school official in the arm before he was tackled and subdued by staff.
Thursday\’s shooting is sure to reignite the debate in the United States on gun control, which is a charged topic in the campaign leading up to the presidential election.