Father Believes Oregon Shooting Victim Saved His Daughter's Life

Oct 5, 2015
Originally published on October 6, 2015 2:28 pm

Lacey Scroggins was in a writing class last week at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., when a man burst in and started shooting people. When it was over, 10 people, including the shooter, were dead, and Lacey was covered in blood.

She survived, and she and her family credit one of the victims for that. She wasn't ready to tell the tale herself, so she asked her father to stand in.

On Sunday, Pastor Randy Scroggins sat in the sanctuary of his New Beginnings Church of God, telling a story he said needed telling. Police agreed, and victims advocates agreed, that it's a way to help heal — not just for Lacey but also for the town of Roseburg.

He said his daughter remembers the gunman, Chris Harper-Mercer, from two days before the attack, when they were fellow students on the first day of writing class: "She said, 'Daddy, he talked a lot. It's not like he was mean. But he talked a lot, he asked questions, he answered questions.' She said he talked so much it was almost to the point of being annoying. But that was it. And the next time she seen him was when he came to execute people on Thursday."

The attack started with the pop of a gunshot from outside, a hole in the window, and suddenly the shooter was in the classroom. Scroggins said Harper-Mercer "shot a few shots in the air, and he said to everybody, 'Get down.' "

Then, Scroggins says, the gunman quickly ordered a man in an orange shirt to come forward, asked if he's a Christian and shot the person after he replied "yes." Harper-Mercer commanded another young man to come forward, but this time, according to Scroggins, the shooter said, "You're the lucky one."

He said, " 'You're the one that gets to live today. I have this, I wanna give it to you, there's a flash drive in it' — whatever that 'it' was ... 'and it will explain what's going on here today, why I'm doing this.' "

Authorities have not revealed details of what's been described as a manifesto. Scroggins said the mother of the so-called "lucky one" said her son was told to sit in the back of the classroom and watch the executions — which, Scroggins said, continued after the gunman told people lying on the floor to move closer together: "They're in that prone position, their heads are down, and they move, they scurry to the center of that room. And then, Lacey said, 'Daddy, he walked to the center and just started shooting people.' "

She heard a huge bang and then felt a body ease over on top of her. It was 20-year-old Treven Anspach — one of those who died.

Scroggins said his daughter told him, " 'I looked, Dad, I looked under my hand as my face is on my hands, and I'm watching Treven's blood, and it is flowing towards me. It is all over my shirt, the side of me, my pants, my boots.'

"And then at that time, she said, 'I heard the shooter over me say, "Get up." ' "

She froze. The shooter asked another person, "Is she dead?" referring to Lacey.

The person said, "I don't know."

The shooter stepped over Lacey and shot someone else.

"The blood of that boy, Treven, saved my daughter's life," Scroggins said. "I know it as well as I know that I'm sitting here. He will always be the Scroggins' hero, from this point forward."

Scroggins firmly believes Anspach, as he was dying, purposely rolled toward Lacey. And that's what Scroggins told Anspach's mother in an emotional phone conversation the two had Saturday — a conversation that ended with the mother making a request: " 'I only want you to do one thing, Pastor. I want you to love your daughter, hold your daughter, kiss your daughter every day of your life. We have a connection, and every time you hug your daughter, I'll be hugging my son.' "

Thursday's attack ended when officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter, who then committed suicide.

Scroggins said when his daughter looked up and saw the gunman on the ground, she got up and helped some of the wounded before police led her away.

He told his daughter's story calmly, with great attention to detail. But at times he was overwhelmed — like when he describes the simple act of taking her to school Thursday morning.

"If something happened to her, then I would've lived with the fact that I'm the one that took her," Scroggins said. "I'm the one that dropped her off to where she died, but — but — she didn't die. She didn't die. She didn't die."

Scroggins said Lacey is trying to get on with living. This past weekend, she and her mom and a sister drove an hour north to Eugene to get their nails done. She has shared some laughs with friends and family — although Scroggins said he pays close attention to the tears and the silent moments.

He said Lacey continues to tell him her story, in pieces, until it gets to be too much. But he said there's one part of the tale she has wanted told from the beginning: "She was made a victim once by the shooter; she will not allow him to make her a victim again. She is getting back up."

Lacey Scroggins plans to enter the nursing program at Umpqua Community College. Her ultimate goal is to be a surgeon.

The UCC campus reopens Monday, but classes won't resume for a week.

Randy Scroggins said he can't say Lacey will go back to that classroom, but she'll be back at school.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here in this country, we have been hearing heartrending stories about the nine people who died last week when a gunman attacked students in a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. Today, we hear the story of a survivor. Eighteen-year-old Lacey Scroggins of Roseburg was in the writing class when the gunman burst in and started shooting. Her father now is telling the story of how she survived and how one of the victims might have saved her life. A warning - some listeners might find parts of the story disturbing. From Roseburg, Ore., here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Randy Scroggins says his daughter Lacey remembers the gunman from two days before the attack, when Lacey and Chris Harper-Mercer were fellow students on the first day of writing class.

RANDY SCROGGINS: She said, Daddy, he talked a lot. It's not like he was mean, but he talked a lot. He asked questions. He answered questions. She said he talked so much it was almost to the point of being annoying. But that was it. And the next time she seen him was when he came to execute people on Thursday.

GOLDMAN: Pastor Randy Scroggins sat in the sanctuary of his New Beginnings Church of God yesterday, telling a story he said needed telling. Police agreed. Victims' advocates agreed. Lacey agreed. It would be a way to help heal, not just Lacey but Roseburg. Lacey isn't ready to talk yet, so she asked her dad to stand in. The attacks started with a pop of a gunshot from outside, a hole in a window. And suddenly, the shooter was in the classroom.

SCROGGINS: He shot a few shots in the air, and he said to everybody, get down.

GOLDMAN: Then quickly, the gunman ordered a male in an orange shirt to come forward, asked if he were Christian and shot the person when he replied yes. Another command for another young man to come forward, but this time, according to Scroggins, the shooter said, you're the lucky one.

SCROGGINS: You're the one that gets to live today. I have this. I want to give it to you. There's a flash drive in it - whatever that - it was - there's a flash drive in it, and it will explain what's going on here today, why I'm doing this.

GOLDMAN: Authorities have not revealed details of what's been described as a manifesto. Scroggins says the mother of the so-called lucky one said her son was told to sit in the back of the classroom and watch the executions, which, says Scroggins, continued after the gunman told people lying on the floor to move closer together.

SCROGGINS: They're in that prone position. Their heads are down. And they move - they scurry to the center of that room. And then Lacey said, Daddy, he walked to the center and just started shooting people.

GOLDMAN: She heard a huge bang and then felt a body ease over on top of her. It was 20-year-old Treven Anspach, one of those who died.

SCROGGINS: And then I looked, Dad, I looked under my hand as my face is on my hands, and I'm watching Treven's blood and it is flowing towards me. It is all over my shirt, the side of me, my pants, my boots. And then at that time, she said, I heard the shooter over me say, get up.

GOLDMAN: She froze. The shooter asked another person, is she dead, referring to Lacey. The person said, I don't know. The shooter stepped over Lacey and shot someone else.

SCROGGINS: The blood of that boy, Treven, saved my daughter's life. I know it, as well as I know that I'm sitting here. He will always be the Scroggins hero from this point forward.

GOLDMAN: Randy Scroggins firmly believes Treven Anspach, as he was dying, purposefully rolled toward Lacey. And that's what Scroggins told Anspach's mother in an emotional phone conversation the two had Saturday, a conversation that ended with the mother making a request.

SCROGGINS: I only want you to do one thing, pastor. I want you to love your daughter, hold your daughter, kiss your daughter every day of your life. We have a connection, and every time you hug your daughter, I'll be hugging my son.

GOLDMAN: Thursday's attack ended when officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter, who then committed suicide. Scroggins says when his daughter looked up and saw the gunman on the ground, she got up and helped some of the wounded before police led her away. Randy Scroggins tells his daughter's harrowing story of the classroom calmly with great attention to detail. But at times, he's overwhelmed, like when he describes the simple act of taking her to school Thursday morning.

SCROGGINS: If something happened to her, then I would live with the fact that I'm the one that took her. I'm the one that dropped her off to where she died. But she didn't die. She didn't die. She didn't die.

GOLDMAN: Indeed, Scroggins says Lacey is trying to get on with living. This past weekend, she drove an hour north to Eugene with her mom and a sister to get their nails done. She has shared some laughs with friends and family, although Scroggins says he plays close attention to the tears and the silent moments. He says Lacey continues to tell him her story in pieces until it gets to be too much. But he says there's one part of the tale she wanted told from the beginning.

SCROGGINS: She was made a victim once by the shooter. She will not allow him to make her a victim again. She is getting back up.

GOLDMAN: Lacey Scroggins plans to enter the nursing program at Umpqua Community College. Her ultimate goal is to be a surgeon. The UCC campus reopens today. Classes resume next Monday. Randy Scroggins says he can't say Lacey will go back to that classroom, but she'll be back at school. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Roseburg, Ore. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.