A survivor of last week's mass shooting at an Oregon college said Friday that he was singled out by the gunman to deliver a message to police, and gave a harrowing account of a seemingly normal school day that erupted into incomprehensible violence.
"It was about 30 or 40 minutes into the class when I heard a couple of shots fired, I couldn't hear anything when he had walked in because my ears where ringing so badly," the 18-year-old student, Mathew Downing, said in a statement released Friday.
The gunman ordered everyone to get into the center of the room and to be quiet, and he put a backpack on the front desk and pulled out an envelope that he said contained a flash drive, Downing said.
"He looked directly at me and said hey kid with the glasses you are the lucky one, I will not shoot you if you give this to the cops," Downing said in the statement.
"I stood up and he pointed the gun at me and this is the moment I thought I was going to die," Downing said. "He paused for a second and then handed the envelope to me and said to sit in the very back seat and face him."
The gunman in the Umpqua Community College classroom, Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, then opened fire into the crowd of students, Downing said.
Nine people were killed and nine others were wounded in the Oct. 1 attack. Harper-Mercer killed himself after he was wounded by police.
Downing said in the statement that "This is my recollection, my story of the events that unfolded Thursday in the Snyder building of UCC."
Downing said Harper-Mercer asked two students questions about religion before killing them.
"The shooter … asked one of the other students to stand up and when he did asked him if he was religious. The student said he was Christian and was shot,” Downing said.
"He then had another student stand up and asked him the same, when he answered Catholic the shooter then asked if he believed in the afterlife. The student said I don’t know and the shooter thanked him for standing up for his beliefs and shot him."
A woman on the floor "said she was sorry for whatever happened to him and for whatever she had done wrong," according to Downing. "The shooter then said that he bets she was and shot her," Downing wrote.
Harper-Mercer reloaded his two handguns from ammunition in the backpack, Downing said. Police arrived and the gunman "leaned about half of his torso out of the classroom to fire on the police."
"The shooter leaned out of the classroom about two times and was shot by one of the officers then retreated into the class," Downing said. "When this happened, he laid down on the ground and shot himself in the head."
President Barack Obama traveled to Roseburg Friday to meet with the families and surviving victims of the mass shooting.
Downing said he wrote his account of the shooting in order to "get my story out in a way that I feel comfortable."
"The final thing I want to add is that I and everybody else should get from this is that any day could be your last," Downing said in the statement.
"You don't want anybody's last memory of you to be a bad one so everybody needs to take it upon themselves to just be a lot nicer to people," he said.