Stories of bravery have started to surface amid the terrible tragedy that left ten people dead and seven more injured at an Oregon community college. Among those seriously injured was 30-year-old North Carolina resident Chris Mintz, whose relatives say confronted the shooter before being shot at least five times.
And he had started the day by wishing his six-year-old son Tyrik “Happy Birthday” on Facebook before heading to school, where things took such a tragic turn.
Mintz, an Army veteran, successfully completed his combat deployment with no serious wounds. But he would face the most danger in one of the least likely places: a small college town.
He was in his first week of class at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday when a man walked into Snyder Hall and started shooting.
Before going into surgery, Mintz told his aunt that he blocked a classroom door to keep the gunman at bay. In the process, he sustained three gunshot wounds.
“It’s my son’s birthday today,” Mintz told the shooter. He was then shot two more times.
“I was told he went after the shooter. It sounds like something he would do,” the victim’s cousin, Derek Bourgeois said. “There was no way he was going to stand around and watch something this horrific happen.”
Mintz’s legs were also broken during the incident, but luckily no vital organs were hit. He is expected to recover, but will have to learn to walk again.
“He could have very easily died,” his aunt, Wanda Mintz, told a local television station. “I really think that if he wasn’t such a strong, young guy, he may have died.”
“We were told he did heroic things to protect some people,” another aunt, Sheila Brown, told NBC News.
Also cited as heroes were two police officers who rushed to defend the helpless students from the Oregon school shooter. A dramatic audio recording captured the moment they confronted the killer.
John Hanlin, the sheriff of Douglas County, Oregon, praised two cops, who he said entered the building with no backup within minutes of the attack starting.
Moments later one of the breathless officers was heard saying they were exchanging shots with the attacker. Then, he radioed back later to say: “Suspect down”.