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'I Feel Sorry for Him': Oregon School Shooting Victim Doesn't 'Hate' Gunman

by Tim Stelloh and Donald Wood /  / Updated 

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A student who survived last week's deadly community college shooting in Oregon told NBC News that she doesn't "hate" the gunman who killed nine people and injured nine more.

"In all honesty," said Ana Boylan, who was shot once in the back, "I feel sorry for him. I feel bad for him. I just wish he could've not done that."

She added, "I don't know what happened to this man in his life, but it really must have messed him up."

Boylan, 18, survived last Thursday morning's attack on Umpqua Community College in Roseburg by playing dead. Chris Harper Mercer, 26, is believed to have committed suicide after opening fire on the 10 a.m. English composition class.

Boylan spoke to NBC News as the college was reopening its doors Monday and offering counseling to students, although classes are suspended until next week. She was in a wheelchair on the campus of PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield, Oregon, where she had undergone surgery for a bullet that had lodged near her spine.

Boylan remained hospitalized at PeaceHealth on Monday, along with two other patients from the shooting. One is in critical condition, a spokeswoman told NBC News, while the remaining two are listed as fair.

Boylan recounted the one thing going through her mind after she was shot — that "hopefully, in some way, my family and my friends, and the family and friends of my class[mates], would be OK," she said.

Boylan didn't yet know whether she would fully recover. One of her legs still doesn't have feeling, although she was able to briefly lift herself from her wheelchair. And doctors told her that her release — which came four days after the shooting — signaled that she was "doing pretty good," she said.

Regardless of her recovery, she said she would never forget what happened.

"I almost lost my life," she said. "It's never going to leave my mind."

Ana Boylan takes a selfie from her hospital bed on Oct. 2.
Ana Boylan takes a selfie from her hospital bed on Oct. 2.Ana Boylan

She said she hoped the many people who had contacted her, offering support and commending her heroism, were doing the same for her classmates. Such messages, she said, "really just [make] me want to let everyone know that there are more heroes and idols out there. My heroes and my idols are my peers that were in the classroom with me and experienced all of this with me."

She added, "I will always share my religion and my thoughts and my spirits with everyone because their hearts and their souls will never be forgotten."

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