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Army Veteran Praised As A Hero In Oregon College Shooting

Chris Mintz was shot multiple times by a gunman at an Oregon community college Thursday, and now he's being called a hero, after it emerged that Mintz ran at the attacker and tried to block the door to a classroom and protect his classmates. Mintz is now recovering from surgery.

"I just hope that everyone else is OK," Mintz, a 30-year-old father who's originally from North Carolina, told ABC News Friday morning. "I'm just worried about everyone else."

An Army veteran, Mintz "ran to the library and pulled all the alarms," fellow student Hannah Miles, 19, tells ABC. "He was telling people to run. ... He actually ran back towards the building where the shooting was. And he ran back into the building."

On Thursday, Mintz was able to speak to his family before going into the operating room, according to Fox 8 TV in North Carolina. His aunt, Wanda Mintz, relayed how he was hurt:

"Tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in, gets shot three times. Hits the floor. Looks up at the gunman and says, 'It's my son's birthday today.' Gets shot two more times."

Mintz suffered two broken legs in the attack at Umpqua Community College, his family says.

Wanda Mintz says of her nephew, a former football player and wrestler, "I really think that if he wasn't such a strong, young guy, he may have died."

Mintz's cousin, Ariana Earnhardt, says, "His vital signs are OK. He's going to have to learn to walk again but he walked away with his life, and that's more than so many other people did."

Another cousin, Derek Bourgeois, set up a Go Fund Me page to help pay for Mintz's medical costs. In just two hours, donors gave more than double the requested amount of $10,000.

"During the shooting, both of his legs were broken and he is going to have to go through a ton of physical therapy," Bourgeois wrote. "While Chris is not the type of person to ask for it, he is going to need all of the help he can get while he recovers!"

The Army veteran's story is attracting wide attention — and Mintz has quickly become a hot topic on social media, where many people are saying that it's his name, not the gunman's, that should be remembered from the attack that left nine victims dead. Local officials are refusing to speak the attacker's name in public.

Mintz was one of seven people who were injured in the attack. Their ages range from 18 to 34.

Today, a friend posted an update to Mintz's Facebook profile, saying, "Chris asked me to thank everyone for their support, he is grateful and keeping our community and all victims in his thoughts."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.