Hundreds of students, faculty and community members gathered in Roseburg’s Stewart Park Thursday night for a candlelight vigil after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in the rural Oregon town, killing nine and injuring seven more.
Chants of “I am UCC” and “We are UCC” rippled through the crowd as Walker Adams watched volunteers arrange candles in the shape of UCC in front of him at the park. Wednesday was his first day of school, he tells PEOPLE. He was scheduled to have classes on Thursday, but they were canceled following the shooting.
“I don’t get it,” Adams, 20, says. “It does not make sense. This is the 45th school shooting this year.”
He added mournfully: “It could be anywhere – it just sucks that it had to be here.”
A few feet away stood UCC graduate Sarah Bergor, tears streaming down her face.
“I didn’t believe it when I saw the initial Facebook posts,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’m just shocked.”
Like Sheriff John Hanlin before him, Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice urged the crowd not to say the gunman’s name. “Today is not about the shooter,” he said, telling them instead to focus on the victims – and the heroes who stepped up to stop the massacre at great risk to themselves.
Umpqua Community College remains closed through the weekend while authorities continue to investigate.
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