Army veteran Chris Mintz wished he could have saved more people as he tried to protect classmates at Umpqua Community College, says a cousin.
An Army veteran who once served at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) tried to stop the gunman from entering a classroom during the deadly shooting rampage Thursday in Roseburg, Ore., and was shot at least five times, according to the man’s aunt.
After Chris Mintz fell to the floor, wounded, he looked up at the shooter, said it was his son’s birthday and asked the gunman to stop, Wanda Mintz told The Associated Press on Friday.
“He’s lucky to be alive, and we’re grateful he’s alive,” she said of her 30-year-old nephew, a student at the college.
Chris Mintz was recuperating at a hospital in Roseburg.
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In an interview with ABC News, he said: “I just hope that everyone else is OK. I’m just worried about everyone else.”
Mintz, 30, suffered wounds to both legs, his stomach and back, according to his cousin, Derek Bourgeois, who says he spoke briefly with Mintz on Thursday evening after surgery.
“He said he wished he could have saved just more people,” Bourgeois told The Seattle Times. “He was just out of surgery and struggling to get out a few words.”
Bourgeois said he was unable to speak in detail with his cousin about what happened during the shooting, and differing accounts have emerged of what exactly Mintz did to try to stop the gunman.
Wanda Mintz’s account is based on her talks with a woman she described as Mintz’s girlfriend.
Speaking by phone from her home in Randelman, N.C., Wanda Mintz said Chris Mintz was in class at Umpqua Community College when he heard gunshots.
“He was in the military and knew what it was,” she said.
Chris Mintz told other students to remain calm and went to the door as the shooter came across the hallway.
His aunt said the gunman shot her nephew three times at the door. After Chris Mintz fell, he told the armed man, “It’s my son’s birthday today. Don’t do this.”
The gunman then shot him at least twice more and proceeded into the classroom.
She said her nephew tried to crawl away but couldn’t move because of his wounds.
Hannah Miles, who was on campus at the time of the shooting, offered another account to ABC News.
She said Mintz “ran to the library and pulled the alarms and he was telling people to run, grabbing people, telling them, ‘You just have to go,’ ” Miles said.
“He actually ran back toward the building where the shooting was and he ran back into the building, and I don’t know what happened to him,” she said of Mintz.
Following surgery, Mintz now has two rods in his legs, Wanda Mintz said, and is going to be in a wheelchair for the foreseeable future.
Mintz was born and raised in Randelman, about an hour and a half west of Raleigh, N.C. His son, Tyrik, turned 6 on the day of the rampage, Wanda Mintz said.
Mintz was in the Army, stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., before being assigned to JBLM, which was then Fort Lewis.
Records released by the Army on Friday indicate that Mintz served at Fort Lewis from October 2004 to March 2007. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which was built around eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles. Those records indicate he did not deploy, but did receive a National Defense Service Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and an Army Service Ribbon.
Mintz received an administrative discharge, according to the records released Friday. Wanda Mintz said he left the Army because of a hand injury.
Mintz was taking classes at Umpqua Community College with the long-term goal of becoming a physical therapist, The Oregonian reported.
He also worked at the local YMCA doing maintenance work on the night shift, where he was known as “Mr. Fix-It.”
Bourgeois said that Mintz, growing up, was big, energetic and “always the guy who wouldn’t quit.”
Bourgeois said he was not surprised by the news that his cousin tried to save lives during the Roseburg shooting.
“I would have been more shocked to hear that he didn’t do it,” Bourgeois said.
A GoFund Me page set up online to raise money for Mintz’s recovery had raised nearly $500,000 as of Friday evening.