A University of Virginia football wounded in the school shooting was “devastated” when he learned of his teammates’ death immediately after doctors removed his ventilator on Wednesday (November 16).
Mike Hollins, a UVa running back, was taken out of intensive care and walked for the first time Wednesday after he was shot in the back by a student while returning to campus by bus from a field trip on Sunday (November 13), his mother said.
“He’s recovering,” Brenda Hollins, Mike’s mother, told ESPN on Thursday (November 17). “Mentally and physically, he’s having a hard time. He doesn’t know why everything happened, why he was shot one time, why he is here and not his friends.”
Mike Hollins, who heard gunshots and ran back on the bus to help his classmates before he was shot himself, only recently learned of the deaths of fellow UVA football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry.
Doctors advised the mother to not tell Mike about the death of his teammates in an effort to keep his vitals stable as he headed into his second surgery.
“We had to tell him that we had no information,” Brenda Hollins said. “We told him that because of the severity of the situation, it was confidential and we couldn’t get any information. I don’t think he believed us. He was throwing his hands up and had this look on his face, and I know he was saying, ‘Why? What do you mean?'”
Mike’s family broke the devastating news after his second procedure on Wednesday.
“He was waiting,” Brenda Hollins recalled. “Right after they removed the ventilator, I heard him say, ‘Thanks, doc.’ I hadn’t heard him talk, so it was just a blessing to hear his voice. As soon as we walked in, that was his question: ‘Where is D’Sean?’ He knew. My daughter was standing closest to him, and he looked at her. She shook her head. She said, ‘He’s gone.’
“Mike’s cry was so deep it was like coming from his soul,” she continued. “It was like a cry I’d never heard before in my life. It was so deep. His cry was so deep. There was nothing I could do. I can’t grab him and pull him to me and hug him because he’s hurt. I can’t move him. It was like he was alone in that moment. We were there, but he was alone.”
Mike was close friends with Perry, who convinced him to go on the field trip to watch a play about Emmett Till in Washington D.C.
“I don’t know how I’m going to live without (Perry),” Brenda said the running back told her.
On Sunday, Mike was one of the first people to exit the bus, but he went back to help after he noticed only two others had followed him off. The UVa football player then came face-to-face with suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who shot Mike in the back as he was trying to run away.
The bullet went through his stomach.
Though Mike’s surgeries were successful, his mother said he still has a long road to recovery. Mike will need to undergo intensive rehabilitation and won’t be able to lift anything for three months, Brenda said. His goal is to return to the field and walk across the commencement stage to accept his bachelor’s degree.
Mike said he didn’t know Jones. The suspected shooter, who was listed on the Virginia football team roster in 2018 but did not appear in a game, was arrested on three counts of second-degree murder, among other charges.