Chris Mintz "tried to protect some people," his aunt Sheila Brown told NBC News in a telephone interview. "We were told he did heroic things to protect some people."
She said that Mintz was shot seven times and had been in surgery since the shooting that left 10 dead, including the gunman.
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Originally from Randleman, North Carolina, Mintz served about 10 years in the Army. He had just started college, Brown said. He was shot in the back, abdomen and hands, and had two broken legs, she added.
"We’re not sure how his legs got broken," she said. "He was on the wrestling team and and he's done cage-fighting so it does not surprise me that he would act heroically."
"It was a great, great shock ... We've all been sitting on pins and needles and praying very hard," Brown said, adding Mintz was "an extremely good guy."
Nine people were killed and nine others were injured when a gunman who demanded to know his victims' religions opened fire Thursday at Umpqua Community College.
The gunman was killed after an exchange of gunfire with Douglas County sheriff's deputies, Sheriff John Hanlin said.
Multiple law enforcement sources identified him to NBC News as Chris Harper Mercer, 26, but the sheriff wouldn't confirm that identity, saying he didn't want to "glorify" the man's actions.
Tracy Connor is a senior writer for NBC News. She started this role in December, 2012. Connor is responsible for reporting and writing breaking news, features and enterprise stories for NBCNews.com. Connor joined NBC News from the New York Daily News, where she was a senior writer covering a broad range of news and supervising the health and immigration beats. Prior to that she was an assistant city editor who oversaw breaking news and the courts and entertainment beats.
Earlier, Connor was a staff writer at the New York Post, United Press International and Brooklyn Paper Publications.
Connor has won numerous awards from journalism organizations including the Deadline Club and the New York Press Club.
She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
F. Brinley Bruton
F. Brinley Bruton is senior editor in charge of NBC News Digital’s London bureau.