Pastor’s sermon: Violence will not have the last word

A sign honoring those killed in a fatal shooting at Umpqua Community College, is displayed Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore. Armed with multiple guns, Chris Harper Mercer, walked into a class at the community college, Thursday, and opened fire, killing several and wounding others. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) – An Oregon pastor whose daughter survived last week’s deadly rampage in a community college classroom says “violence will not have the last word.”

More than 100 people gathered to hear pastor Randy Scroggins speak today at New Beginnings Church of God in Roseburg, including his daughter 18-year-old Lacey, who sat in the front row and wiped away tears.

Scroggins said he’s been asked whether he can forgive Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, who killed nine when he opened fire Thursday at Umpqua Community College.

Scroggins, his voice cracking with emotion, said “I don’t know.” But he added “I don’t focus on the man. I focus on the evil that was in the man.”

Harper-Mercer killed himself after police arrived on the scene.

Religious faith is an important part of many people’s lives in this rural part of Oregon, called by some “the Bible Belt of Oregon.” In Roseburg alone, there are dozens of churches, and Christian billboards and crosses dot area highways and roads.

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