(CNN) — When Chris Mintz heard gunfire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College on Thursday, his thoughts were not of himself.
Instead, he thought first of protecting others. Then he thought of his 6-year-old son, Tyrik.
Nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire at the College on Thursday. Nine others were injured.
When the shooting broke out, Mintz, 30, a military veteran and a former high school football player in Randleman, North Carolina, tried to save the lives of others.
“Tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in,” his aunt, Wanda Mintz, told Fox 8, a CNN affiliate in High Point, North Carolina.
“Gets shot three times,” his aunt said. “Hits the floor.”
“Looks up at the gunman and says, ‘It’s my son’s birthday today,’ ” his aunt said.
Still, there was no mercy. The gunman shot Mintz again. It’s not yet clear exactly how many more times, but both his legs are broken, said family members who talked to him by phone on his way into surgery.
“He’s going to have to learn to walk again,” Ariana Earnhardt, his cousin, told Fox 8. “But he walked away with his life, and that’s more than so many other people did.”
Frantic students hid behind backpacks, chairs
Some on social media hailed Mintz’s courage and encouraged people to remember him rather than the killer.
“What a example of what it means to be a American Hero,” one person said on Twitter.
Despite plea, gunman showed no mercy
Even in the hospital, riddled with bullet wounds, Mintz was thinking of others.
“When I found out he had been transferred to the hospital, I immediately tried calling him,” said another cousin, Derek Bourgeois. “His ex-girlfriend was with him.”
“When I asked him how he was doing,” Bourgeous said, “he immediately said ‘people died’ and lost it crying.”
Mintz told his cousin he had been shot five times, but the total number is not entirely clear.
“His ex-girlfriend actually corrected him while he was on the phone with me, telling him he was actually shot seven times,” Bourgeois said. “He was so out of it, he didn’t even know how many times he had been shot.”
Mintz was shot in the back, stomach, hands and legs, Bourgeois said.
Grave as Mintz’s injuries are, Bourgeous — like Mintz’s other relatives — is grateful.
“I’m just so happy that he’s OK,” Bourgeois said. “It could have been worse.
“I’ve been going to UCC ever since I graduated high school and I would have gone back this fall had I not been called by Dancing With The Stars to do that show, and it just, it breaks my heart that something like this would happen here is Rosebury of all places, I mean it’s just. I’m angry honestly and its just, you can’t even put words to it cause I mean this community is so small everybody is gonna know at least somebody that was hurt or killed in this attack.” – Alek Skarlatos, France Train Hero