Chris Mintz started his day on Oct. 1 by wishing a “Happy Birthday” to his 6-year-old son Tyrik on Facebook before heading to class at Umpqua Community College for class.
A North Carolina native, the 30-year-old Army veteran had moved to Oregon to be closer to his son, but was forced into action when shooter Chris Harper Mercer opened fire on campus.
Family members state that Mintz bull-rushed Mercer in an attempt to protect his classmates and was shot five times in the process.
“There was no way he was going to stand around and watch something this horrific happen,” cousin Derek Bourgeois told the Daily Mail.
According to the Daily Beast, a nearly unconscious Mintz kept repeating, “It’s my son’s birthday, it’s my son’s birthday,” before being rushed to the hospital.
Bourgeois, who enlisted with Mintz some 10 years ago, said that none of Mintz’s vital organs were hit, but that he suffered severe fractures in both legs and will have to learn how to walk again.
After leaving the Army, Mintz began practicing mixed martial arts and was taking classes at Umpqua with the goal of becoming a certified fitness instructor. His aunt, Wanda, believes his fitness played a major part in his miraculous survival.
“If he wasn’t such a strong, young guy, he may have died,” she told Fox News.