Let’s talk about the heroes of Umpqua instead of the psychotic killer.
30-year-old Army veteran Chris Mintz was shot seven times by the killer as he struggled to protect students. His aunt Sheila Brown told NBC News he served 10 years in the military, and had just started classes at the college. She also said he was on the wrestling team and had experience as a cage fighter. Several sources say Mintz was stationed at Fr. Lewis in Washington, and was deployed during his Army service.
Mintz has been in surgery ever since the shooting, after taking bullets in the back, abdomen, and hands. His legs are also both broken, for reasons not currently clear.
According to a report at the Daily Beast, Mintz was shot while running straight at the killer. Thursday was the sixth birthday of his son, Tyrik, an event he commemorated with a Facebook post in the morning. Taking care of his son is said to be one of the reasons he moved to Oregon. As he lay wounded among the students he saved, he was heard to say “It’s my son’s birthday” several times.
A report at Business Insider states he also informed the shooter it was his son’s birthday, after the first few bullets struck him. The killer proceed to shoot him two more times.
NBC reports that on Friday morning, a post appeared on what appeared to be Mintz’s Facebook page, written by a friend: “This is Chris’s friend, Chris asked me to thank everyone for their support, he is grateful and keeping our community and all victims in his thoughts.”
His cousin Derek Bourgeois says Mintz is expected to recover, adding “he’s going to have to learn to walk again.” Mintz reportedly had ambitions to become a fitness trainer, and will have some new challenges to overcome, but I wouldn’t recommend betting against him. The UK Daily Mail has a photo of Mintz in his hospital bed, smiling for the camera.
“I was told he went after the shooter,” Bourgeois told the Daily Mail. “There was no way he was going to stand around and watch something this horrific happen.”
Another veteran and student at the college, Air Force vet John Parker, told Sean Hannity of Fox News that he was on campus when the shooting occurred. Parker has a concealed-carry permit and was armed. He said he and the other vets at the campus veteran center, about 200 yards away from the crime scene, raced to the sound of the shooting… but the school staff refused to let him help.
“I carry, and I was willing to help,” he told Hannity. “Immediately the school staff stopped us and told us to get inside the building.” He said he didn’t know if any of the other veterans were armed.
Parker also appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show, and was asked by the host about President Obama’s assertion that states with strict gun laws have fewer shootings. “I say look at Chicago,” Parker replied.
Parker told the Huffington Post he approached a police officer during their sweep of the campus and told him about his weapon. “He searched me, took the gun, escorted me back to the car and gave me my gun back, and told me to have a nice day,” Parker said.
Also, let us not forget to honor the heroic police officers who took the shooter down. Sheriff John Hanlin praised two officers who “responded into the building within minutes and exchanged gunfire with the suspect.” He did not name the officers, but said the department would do so at a later time. On the other hand, Hanlin won’t name the shooter: “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act.”
Update: One of the two officers who brought the killer down has been identified by the New York Daily News as 49-year-old Roseburg Police Sgt. Joe Kaney.
“He reportedly was shot in the line of duty back in 2005 and later wrote the department’s body camera policy,” writes the NYDN. “It’s not clear if he was wearing a camera during the campus rampage that ended Thursday with at least 10 dead.”
Kaney himself refused to comment, but his wife Dayna proudly declared, “Well of course he’s a hero, yeah.” She said she was happy he was able to help save some lives and return home safely.
Update: Chris Mintz’s cousin Derek Bourgeois has established a GoFundMe page to assist with his recovery and caring for his son.