The mother of University of Virginia running back Mike Hollins, who was hospitalized in a shooting that killed three football players Sunday, says her son was trying to warn others before being struck by gunfire.
Hollins, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one of two people wounded when a fellow student opened fire on a bus returning from a class field trip in Charlottesville, killing football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.
As Mike Hollins remains hospitalized, the athlete’s mother, Brenda Hollins, spoke to CNN’s John Berman Friday night and described the harrowing moments her son ran off the bus, yelling at two of his classmates to flee.
But when he noticed nobody else was exiting, he started to go into the bus and yell for them to leave, she said.
“He tried to take that first step back onto the bus and he met the shooter,” Hollins said.
“I’m thankful that he’s able to tell the story,” she added.
Brenda Hollins also gave an update on his condition, saying Friday was a rough day for her son and he still faces a long road to recovery ahead of him.
“My son, he has feeling, so hurting is good. And so I’m trying to look at it in that aspect because … I saw him yesterday … he was up, he was walking. He was laughing, and I mean we had a good time, and then today he’s hurting,” the mother told CNN. “He’s back in bed, and I know it’s going to be up and down, and I’m grateful for that because with the pain, here’s here, he’s with me.”
She added, “I’m thankful though, thankful because I could be one of the other boys’ parents and they’re making preparations to receive their sons’ bodies. I couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t imagine.”
Hollins said her son, from his hospital bed, was waiting to find out what happened to D’Sean Perry and the others who died. Perry was Mike’s best friend, said his mother.
“As soon as they took him off of the ventilator, he asked ‘where’s D’Sean.’ And no one said anything, and my daughter, she shook her head and she told him he didn’t make it. And he just broke down, he broke down,” Hollins said.
The mother described feeling helpless trying to comfort her wounded son, who’s also grappling with losing his friends in the shooting.
“Anytime your child cries, you want to comfort them and this was a time that I couldn’t comfort him,” she said. “Kids always run to their mother, always, and he wasn’t able to run to me, and I wasn’t able to embrace him,” she added.
The suspect in the shooting, former UVA football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces three charges of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said. He also faces two counts of malicious wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge.
Jones had his first court appearance on Wednesday and the court ordered that he be held without bond. He remains in custody in Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, online records show.
The University of Virginia is holding a public memorial service at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at its basketball stadium, John Paul Jones Arena, to honor the lives lost during the shooting. It will be live streamed for those who can’t attend in person.
When the Virginia men’s basketball team arrived at the court for a game in Las Vegas Friday, players wore sweatshirts honoring the three football players killed in the shooting.
The sweatshirts featured the words “UVA Strong” on the front and the names Chandler, Davis Jr. and Perry on the backs.
“I want Coach (Tony) Elliott and all those players and most importantly those families to know that we love them and certainly we are praying for them,” Cavaliers men’s basketball head coach Tony Bennett said on the ESPN2 television broadcast Friday.
Multiple university football teams across the state of Virginia are honoring the football players with helmet decals in upcoming games. The Virginia Tech Hokies, Old Dominion Monarchs, Liberty Flames and James Madison Dukes all announced players will wear helmet decals on Saturday.
The NFL’s Washington Commanders also announced that the team will be wearing three helmet decals with the jersey numbers of the three football players.