The mother of University of Virginia running back Mike Hollins, 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.
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Hollins is one of two people injured when a fellow student opened fire on a bus returning to Charlottesville from a school trip, killing football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were killed.
While Mike Hollins remains hospitalized, the athlete’s mother, Brenda Hollins, spoke to CNN’s John Berman Friday night and described the poignant moments when her son ran off the bus and yelled at two of his classmates to run.
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 that first step back into the bus and met the shooter,” Hollins said.
“I’m thankful 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 ahead of him.
“My son, he has feeling, so hurting is good. And so I try to look at it from that aspect because… I saw him yesterday… he was awake, he was walking. He laughed, and I mean we had a good time, and today he’s in pain,” the mother told CNN. “He’s back in bed and I know it’s up and down, and I’m thankful for that because with the pain, here he is, he’s with me.”
She added, “I’m grateful though, grateful because I could be one of the other boys’ parents and they are preparing to receive their sons’ bodies.” I couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t imagine it.”
Hollins said her son waited from his hospital bed to find out what happened to Perry and the others who died. Perry was Mike’s best friend, his mother said.
“As soon as they took him off the ventilator, he asked ‘where’s D’Sean.’ And no one 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 injured son.
“Every time your child cries you want to comfort him and this was a time when I couldn’t comfort him,” she said. “Kids always run to their mother, always, and he couldn’t run to me, and I couldn’t hug him,” she added.
The suspect in the shooting, former UVA football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces three counts of manslaughter and three counts of using a gun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said. He also faces two counts of intentional wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge.
Jones made his first court appearance on Wednesday and the court ordered that he be held without bail. He remains in custody at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Penitentiary, 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 in the shooting. The families of the three victims sat in the front rows and hugged each other.
Also present was the state governor, Glenn Youngkin.
“Regardless of our roles, we are also called upon to celebrate the lives of Devin, Lavel, and D’Sean, and to embrace what this university teaches us beyond the classroom, that we are fortunate to have each other in good times and in good times. . times of loss,” said university principal Whitt Clement at the start of the service.
“Rest assured, these three young men will forever be remembered at our University of Virginia,” Clement said.
Athletics 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 on the first pew in the church, despite his six-foot-tall body blocking the rows behind him, Williams said. And Perry treasured his childhood Power Ranger Halloween costume that his family says he wore until Thanksgiving that year, she added.
Trainers spoke at the event, as did students, each calling the three footballers their brothers.
“I don’t know how we can go on without you. Your impact on our lives, the team, the community, the university is immeasurable,” head coach Marques Hagans said in a recorded message about Davis.
Sophomore Cody Brown read aloud a letter he wrote to Chandler, whose energy he believed would illuminate any practice. “We were lucky and blessed enough to have you in our lives,” said Brown.
Third-year Ben Smiley said Perry always reminded him that “life was more important than football.”
I never really knew what he meant,” Smiley said. “Since the tragedy, many things he said to me, I realized the meaning.”
The university increased security measures in and near the arena after receiving a threatening email regarding the memorial service, UVA police said on Twitter. There was a visible police presence during the ceremony, with police cars parked in front of the arena and officers patrolling the parking lot with sniffer dogs.
When the Virginia men’s basketball team arrived on the court for a game in Las Vegas on Friday, the players wore sweatshirts in honor of the three footballers who died 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 those players and especially those families to know that we love them and we are definitely praying for them,” Tony Bennett, Cavaliers men’s basketball head coach, said on Friday’s ESPN2 television broadcast.
Multiple college football teams in the state of Virginia honor the football players with helmet decals in upcoming games. The Virginia Tech Hokies, Old Dominion Monarchs, Liberty Flames and James Madison Dukes will wear all announced players helmet stickers on Saturday.
The Washington Commanders of the NFL also announced that the team will wear three helmet decals with the back numbers of the three football players.