Mike Hollins, a University of Virginia mother who was hospitalized after a shooting that killed three football players last Sunday, says her son tried to warn others before he was hit by gunfire.
Hollins, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one of two people injured when a fellow student opened fire on a bus returning from a school trip to Charlottesville, and football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’ Killed Sean Perry.
While Mike Hollins remains hospitalized, the athlete’s mother, Brenda Hollins, spoke to CNN’s John Berman on Friday night and described the harrowing moments when her son ran off the bus and yelled at two of his classmates to flee.
But when he noticed no one else was getting off, he started getting on the bus and yelling for them to leave, she said.
“He tried to take the first step back onto the bus and hit the shooter,” Hollins said.
“I’m grateful he can tell the story,” she added.
Brenda Hollins also gave an update on his condition, saying Friday was a tough day for her son and he still has a long road to recovery.
“My son, he has feelings, so pain is good. And so I’m trying to look at it from that perspective, because … I saw him yesterday … he was up, he was walking. He was laughing and I mean we had a good time and today he’s hurting,” the mother told CNN. “He’s back in bed and I know it’s going to be an up and down and I’m grateful for that because with the pain, here it is, it’s with me.”
She added: “I’m grateful nonetheless, grateful because I could be one of the parents of the other boys and they are making preparations to receive their sons’ bodies. I couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t imagine it.”
Hollins said her son is waiting from his hospital bed to find out what happened to Perry and the other dead. Perry was Mike’s best friend, his mother said.
“As soon as they took him off the ventilator, he said, ‘Where’s D’Sean?’ And nobody said anything and my daughter shook her head and told him he didn’t make it. And he just broke down, he broke down,” Hollins said.
The mother described feeling helpless as she tried to comfort her wounded son.
“Anytime your child is crying, you want to comfort them, and that was a time I couldn’t comfort them,” she said. “Kids always run to their mother, and he couldn’t run to me, and I couldn’t hug him,” she added.
The suspect in the shooting, former UVA soccer player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, said UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. He looks on also faced two counts of malicious wounding, each accompanied by a firearms charge.
Jones made his first court appearance on Wednesday and the court ordered that he be held without bail. He remains in custody at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, online records show.
The University of Virginia held a public memorial service Saturday at its basketball stadium, the John Paul Jones Arena, to honor the lives lost during the shooting. The families of the three victims sat in the front rows and hugged.
Also in attendance was the state governor, Glenn Youngkin.
“Regardless of our roles, we are also called to celebrate the lives of Devin, Lavel and D’Sean and embrace what this university is teaching us beyond the classroom, that we are fortunate to have each other in good times and in Times of loss,” said University Rector Whitt Clement at the beginning of the service.
“Rest assured, these three young men will always be remembered at our University of Virginia,” Clement said.
Athletic director Carla Williams, who also spoke at the service, said she learned a lot about the victims after spending time with their families.
Chandler loved to dance and laugh, while Davis always wanted to sit in the front pew, despite his 6-foot-7 frame blocking the rows behind him, Williams said. And Perry treasured his childhood Power Ranger Halloween costume, which his family says he wore through Thanksgiving that year, she added.
Both coaches and students spoke at the event, each referring to the three soccer players as their brothers.
“I don’t know how we’re going to get on without you, your impact on our lives, the team, the community, the university is immeasurable,” Associate Head Coach Marques Hagans said of Davis in a recorded message.
Second year Cody Brown read aloud a letter he wrote to Chandler whose energy he said would brighten any exercise. “We were fortunate and blessed to have you in our lives,” Brown said.
Third-year Ben Smiley said Perry always reminded him that “life is more important than football”.
I never really knew what he meant,” Smiley said. “Since the tragedy, I’ve found meaning in many of the things he’s said to me.”
The university increased security measures in and around the arena after receiving a threatening email related to the UVA Police Department’s memorial service said on twitter. There was a visible police presence during the ceremony, with police cruisers parked in front of the arena and officers walking around the parking lot with sniffer dogs.
When the Virginia men’s basketball team walked onto the court for a game in Las Vegas on Friday, the players wore sweatshirts in honor of the three football players killed in the shooting.
The sweatshirts had the words “UVA Strong” on the front and the names Chandler, Davis Jr. and Perry on the back.
“I want Coach (Tony) Elliott and all of these players and especially these families to know that we love them and of course we pray for them,” Cavaliers basketball head coach Tony Bennett said on ESPN2 on Friday.
Several Virginia varsity football teams are honoring football players in upcoming games with helmet decals. The Virginia Tech Hokies, Old Dominion Monarchs, Liberty Flames and James Madison Dukes will all wear announced players Helmet decal on Saturday.
The Washington Commanders of the NFL also announced that the team will wear three helmet stickers with the jersey numbers of the three football players.