The daughter of an Oregon pastor survived the devastating massacre at Umpqua Community College last Thursday after a classmate who was shot and killed rolled over her, covering her in his blood.
Pastor Randy Scroggins, whose daughter Lacey was among a handful of students who survived Thursday's shooting, spoke at his church Sunday morning as his daughter and the other student, 18-year-old Mathew Downing, sat together in the congregation.
"I want to tell of my family's hero," Scroggins emotionally said before relaying the events of that tragic morning, when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer, brandishing a gun, told everyone to get down.
Although Lacey thought it was part of a writing exercise for class, she soon realized it was all too real, the pastor said. Mercer began questioning her classmates one by one before he shot them, asking at least two, "What religion are you? Are you a Christian?"
"Lacey said, 'Daddy my ears started to ring, I couldn't hear, I didn't know what was going on... I only knew one thing: pray,'" Scroggins recounted. "You can take your kids to soccer games, take them to baseball games, take them to church, but there's nothing that can replace teaching your children to pray."
Lacey told her father that the shooter then asked one man to come to the front. He gave the student a backpack with a thumb drive in it: "You're the lucky one. You're not going to die today," he said.
After Lacey heard a shot close to her head, she realized the boy next to her, Treven Anspach, had been shot and he was bleeding, Scroggins said. That's when Anspach started rolling toward her.
"I felt Treven's body as it moved over mine," Lacey told her father.
"The blood of that boy that covered my daughter saved my daughter's life," Scroggins said.
With Anspach lying on top of her, his blood covering her body, Lacey didn't move when Mercer told her to get up. He asked a woman nearby if Lacey was alive, and when the woman replied that she didn't know, he walked over Lacey and shot another student, Scroggins said.
"Nobody will ever truly know, but we believed he intentionally moved onto Lacey," Scroggins said.
Lacey told her father that she heard a barrage of gunfire when the police arrived. Before ending his own life after police engaged him in a gunfight, Mercer killed nine students and injured dozens of others.
When it was safe, Lacey got up and used her scarf as a tourniquet on a victim and helped another by telling them to plug a bullet wound with a finger.
"Someone asked me, 'Can you forgive the shooter?'" Scroggins told his congregation. "I don't focus on the man. I focus on the evil that was in the man."
In a separate interview, the pastor said his family is now relying on their faith and one another for strength as they continue to grapple with the horrific experience.
"We have a very strong family, a very close family," Scroggins said. "In describing our complexion, I'd say we're extremely grateful, more than I can put into words.
"One moment Lacey is laughing, the next moment she is crying," he continued. "She is going through a survivor guilt syndrome. 'Why me? Why am I alive?' At times she feels sad about being alive, and other times, she's grateful."
Christian leaders across the country have said the shooting is evidence of increased hostility and persecution toward believers.
"Persecution and targeting of Christians isn't just in Iran or the Middle East, it's right here in America," Graham wrote in a recent Facebook post. "The bold souls at Umpqua Community College who stood up to say they were followers of Jesus Christ were heinously gunned down with no mercy. Jesus said, 'If they hate you, remember they hated me before they hated you,' (John 15:18)."