Neighbours of the Oregon gunman’s grandfather have spoken of their shock that such a terrible crime has links to Preston.
British-born Chris Harper-Mercer was yesterday named as the gunman who opened fire at the American college, killing at least nine people.
The 26-year-old, whose social media profiles featured content supporting the IRA, apparently demanded to know his victims’ religious beliefs before opening fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, USA.
It has now emerged that his grandfather lives in Preston.
Widower Joe Mercer, known to his friends as Leo, lives in Ingol, Preston, but spends part of his time in the USA.
A neighbour, who does not wish to be named, said: “He will be absolutely devastated if his grandson is responsible.
“After his wife died, he fell apart and he changed. He missed her so much.
“That’s why he goes to America so much, to be with his family. He’s so proud of his family and it will destroy him to think something so dreadful has happened.”
It is believed that Joe and his wife June raised their family, including the gunman’s father Ian Mercer, at the family home in Ingol.
June died in 2011 and after that the grief-striken Joe began spending more time with his family in America.
Joe’s son Ian, the gunman’s father, lives in California.
He told reporters that he was shocked at the incident.
He said it had been a “devastating day” for him and his family and said he had been talking to police and the FBI about the shooting.