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Oregon school shooting: Umpqua student witness recalls 'panic mode' on campus

Students and other witnesses of a mass shooting at an Oregon community college describe what happened when the gunman opened fire.
/ Source: TODAY

Two students in the classroom next to where a gunman opened fire at an Oregon community college said they thought the initial gunshot was a book or table that fell, until a classmate left the room to investigate and immediately ran into the gunman.

“She got shot twice by the shooter, so she fell, she collapsed, and we were all in panic mode then,” Cassandra Welding told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie. "We closed the door, locked it and turned off the light, huddled in the corner of the room. Our classmates and I continued to hear shot after shot.”

Both Welding and Sarah Cobb, in an interview Friday, said they were still trying to process what they experienced when a gunman opened fire Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College, just outside Roseburg, Oregon. At least nine people were killed and nine wounded.

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Cobb said she didn’t completely realize what was going on until she looked outside the classroom window.

“I saw two girls running from the building and that’s when I knew, it registered to me, that was a gunshot, so I told the teacher, ‘We got to get out of here, we got to get out of here now,’” she said.

Cobb said she’s still trying to process what happened.

“It’s absolutely terrifying. I never thought something like this would have happened in such a small community like this,” she said. “I’m mortified. I don’t know what to think.”

MORE: How parents can stay informed about their college student's safety

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said “overnight, investigators have located a number of firearms” linked to the shooter and said details about the discovery would be released later in the day. But he revealed few other details about the shooting.

“It’s very early in the investigation. We will be trying to determine exactly what happened in that classroom, but it is too early to tell at this point,” he said.

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Authorities have identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, who was killed during a shootout with officers.

Hanlin said that the shooter wasn’t an individual who raised concerns in his department.

"I'm not aware of any specific red flags," he said.

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.