Why the Umpqua shooter’s manifesto should be released


During the Umpqua Community College shooting the gunman, Chris Harper-Mercer, is said to have spared one victim in order to hand them a manifesto to be made public. While the complete details of the manifesto have not yet been made public it’s been leaked that Harper-Mercer allegedly bemoaned that he wasn’t too successful with the ladies. I’ll be getting into his lack of social skills in a future post.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin has gone on record saying that he will not mention the gunman by name

Roseburg’s anonymity campaign — appearing in hashtags like #dontsayhisname — has been driven in part by Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, who told reporters, “You will never hear me say his name.”

Hanlin reportedly does this in order to avoid giving undeserving fame to the shooter. I disagree with him on this point, but I digress.

It stands to reason that since Hanlin won’t name the killer he may not ever release the killer’s manifesto to the public. I think this is a mistake and the manifesto should be made public.

Several years ago a U.S. District Judge ordered depositions given by the parents of the Columbine shooters were to be kept sealed in the National Archives until 2028. Similarly former Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink had the infamous Basement Tapes destroyed in 2011 without notifying any kind of media. It wasn’t until earlier this year that anyone knew that the tapes had been destroyed. In both instances both decisions were made in order avoid any more copycat shootings. Unfortunately that has not been the case. Instead of having knowledge of how the gunmen acted and planned we have myths and legends born out of ignorance that some have used in order to stage their own killings.

Knowledge is power and the more knowledge we have about how mass murderers like this act and think the better chance we have of stopping the next possible shooting.

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  1. ronni

    I like to see their manifestos, too. I think that a relatively sane person will always be at a disadvantage in understanding these killers, because nothing they say will really make sense. I do find it interesting to read what they thought was worth killing for. There was another guy rumoured to be the killer, before the truth was known, and someone sent me a link to his YouTube stuff. It reminded me a lot of Elliot Rodger’s spiel, though there were no actual threats. It makes me wonder just how many narcissistic assholes there are out there who are ticking time bombs, to coin a cliché.

    1. Trench Reynolds

      Unfortunately too many.

  2. colgam01

    Hey Trench, you saw that the manifesto and other data related to the shooting were released several days ago? Here you go: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3989824-Christopher-Sean-Harper-Mercer-My-Manifesto.html

    Love the blog btw, have been reading since about 2011.

    1. Trench Reynolds (Post author)

      Thanks. It’s always nice to hear from longtime readers.

      I heard about the manifesto being released, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Another school shooting in the Northwest is taking up my time right now.


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