VA, his mother announced Thursday, that Mike Hollins of the University of Virginia has been removed from a ventilator after he was injured in a school shooting that killed three of his teammates.
Brenda Hollins said her son was moved out of intensive care and walked for the first time on Wednesday, days after he was shot in the back by a former UVA football player who opened fire on a charter bus back to campus on Sunday.
“He’s recovering,” Brenda Hollins told ESPN Thursday. “Mentally and physically, he’s having a hard time. He doesn’t know why everything happened, why he was shot once, why he’s here and not his friends.”
UVA football players Devin Chandler, Lavelle Davis Jr. and Deshaun Perry were killed in the shooting. Mike Hollins—who had run back to the charter bus with the shots heard to help his classmates before he was shot—has recently learned of their deaths.
medical examiner:The University of Virginia football players received a gunshot wound to the head
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Brenda Hollins said doctors advised her not to tell Mike Hollins about his teammates’ death because they wanted to keep his vitals stable before the second surgery. That didn’t stop Mike Hollins, whose poop was inserted at the time, from asking with a pen and paper.
“We had to tell him we had no information,” said Brenda Hollins. “We told him that because of the seriousness of the situation, it was confidential and we couldn’t get any information out. I don’t think he believed us. He’d raise his hands and I had this look on his face, and I know he was like, ‘Why?’ What you mean?”
His family brought him the heartbreaking news after his second procedure on Wednesday.
“He was waiting,” Brenda Hollins recalls. Right after they removed the ventilator, I heard him say, ‘Thank you, Doc.’ I didn’t hear him speak, so it was just a blessing to hear his voice. And as soon as we walked in, that was his question: ‘Where’s D’Sean?’ My daughter was standing near him, and he looked at her, shook her head, and said, “He’s gone.”
She continued, “Mike’s cry was so deep, like a cry from his soul. It was like a cry I had never heard before in my life. It was so deep. His scream was so deep, there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t grab him and pull him towards me and hug him because he was hurt. No.” I could move him. It was like he was alone in that moment. We were there, but he was alone.”
Mike Hollins was particularly close to Perry, who persuaded him to go on a field trip with the group to see a play about Emmett Till in Washington, D.C.
Brenda Hollins said her son said, “I don’t know how I’m going to live without[Perry].”
What we know: Three University of Virginia players killed, former player under arrest
Mike Hollins, his mother, recalled what happened on the charter bus Sunday night. He said he thought balloons were popping, until he realized a student had a gun. Mike Hollins was one of the first people to get off the bus, but he says only two others followed him. He ordered the students to keep running and returned to the bus to help the others.
He said, “Mom, I’m back.” I needed to do something. I was going to bang the windows because nobody got off the bus. He said, “I would hit the windows. I would get on the bus and tell them to get on and off.”
Then, Mike Hollins confronted the shooter, 22-year-old Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who he said pointed a gun at him. Mike Hollins was shot in the back while trying to escape. The bullet exited his stomach.
“The only thing he remembers is that he tried to turn, but he saw him raise the gun. He felt his back heat up and he ran,” said Brenda Hollins. “He feared that if he ran too far into the parking garage, no one would find him and he would die.”
An eyewitness told police the gunman targeted specific victims, shooting one of them while he was asleep, the court prosecutor said Wednesday during Jones’ first court appearance. Authorities have not addressed a possible motive, and neither Jones nor his attorney has addressed the charges in court.
ESPN has identified the fifth victim of the shooting as Marley Morgan.
Mike Hollins said he did not know Jones. Jones, who was on the Virginia football team in 2018 but did not appear in a game, was arrested on three counts of second-degree murder, among other charges.
Mike Hollins has a long road to recovery.
Brenda Hollins said her son will undergo extensive rehabilitation and won’t be able to lift anything for three months, but he has a goal of getting back on the soccer field. (He has another year of eligibility due to COVID-19.) Mike Hollins is also determined to walk across the stage to accept his bachelor’s degree from UVA next month.
“This will be a blessing,” said Brenda Hollins. “He’s walking with his three brothers on his back, and that’s exactly how he’s going to feel because he misses them. And so he’s determined, and if he’s going to graduate, he’s going to walk.”
Brenda Hollins told her son, “You’re going to live for them.”
Contributing: The Associated Press