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Students in a classroom at Umpqua Community College sat in the corner of a classroom with the lights out and curtains drawn after a gunman opened fire at the Oregon school Thursday, leaving 10 people dead.
"I was walking into class and I heard what sounded like a car backfiring. You don’t even think that’s somebody shooting a gun," Courtney Rennie, a second year human services student, told NBC News.
One student who was injured in the shooting was Chris Mintz, who had served 10 years in the Army after graduating high school in 2003, and was just starting college, his aunt, Sheila Brown, told NBC News.
She said he was shot once in the back and had two broken legs, but didn't have any damage to vital organs.
"We’re not sure how his legs got broken," said Brown, who was in North Carolina but getting information from Chris' girlfriend at the hospital.
"We know he tried to protect some people," she said. "We were told he did heroic things to protect some people."
The gunman was killed after an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement who responded to the college in Roseburg, located in the southwest part of the state, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said.
The gunman was identified by law enforcement sources late Thursday as Chris Harper Mercer, 26.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Thursday afternoon that 10 people were killed and seven were injured.
A Navy veteran was chatting with a National Guard recruiter when they heard a single gunshot ring out.
"I saw a guy with a handgun right outside, he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He was going toward the building and he just disappeared into the building," Kenny Ungerman told NBC News.
"We both dropped to the ground behind my Jeep and then we heard more gunshots,” said Ungerman, a first-year student in the medic program.
"I heard a bunch of people running and screaming, 'He has a gun' and 'He’s shooting.' Then we heard more gunshots," Ungerman added.
He and the recruiter got into the Jeep and drove down the road to prevent other cars from entering campus until police arrived, he said.
Students Sarah Cobb and Cassandra Welding said they were in separate classrooms but both narrowly missed being stalked by the gunman. They described hearing a "loud pop" nearby.
Welding said on TODAY on Friday morning that a classmate went outside the room to investigate and was seen collapsing to the ground.
"We closed the door and locked it," Welding said, adding, "I honestly don’t know if she’s in critical condition or is OK at this point."
Cobb said her classroom was almost targeted by the gunman after her teacher moved toward the door to open it. But she decided otherwise.
"Thank God she didn’t," Cobb said.
Other students recounted their harrowing experiences and seeing others fleeing for their lives.
Student Larry Howell was on his way to class when he saw students running around him, he told NBC News.
"I turned around. I heard 'active shooter,' and I didn't need to be told twice," he said.
In Rennie’s class in Jackson Hall, which is "quite a ways" from where the shooting took place, a teacher told the 10 students they were in lockdown, then turned off the lights and closed the curtains.
"It was really quiet and I think we all kind of thought it was a drill, and then my sociology teacher came in and said it’s real," Rennie, 23, said.
"I kept envisioning like someone is going to come around the corner and shoot the windows out," she said.
Students watched news on a projector as they waited for a bus, Rennie said. Rennie was eventually able to contact her friends and make sure they were safe.
"I don’t really know how to react. They prepare you for stuff like this in elementary school and you never think it’s actually going to happen," she said.
Emily Farmer, 19, was in class in a building near where the shooting took place. She, too, described hearing noises that could have been shots, but did not think someone had actually opened fire.
"We were just having normal class, and we heard a couple of noises like gunshots, coming from the area of the Synder building, but we didn’t think they were gunshots," the sophomore said.
"Then a classmate got a text message from her father saying there was a shooting," she said. Security was called and the class was placed on lockdown until the students were allowed to leave. They were searched for weapons and then placed on a bus.
Another Umpqua student, 20-year-old Anna Swanson, was supposed to be on the campus at 9 a.m. Thursday to meet with a nursing advisor, but overslept. "Thank God," she said.
"I’m scared, we don’t know any names yet so everyone is freaking out", the nursing student said. "I’m worried about professors as well as who may have been shot. We have so many great people at UCC."