CHARLOTTEESVILLE, VA — When a gunman began shooting at passengers on a charter bus returning to the University of Virginia from a field trip Sunday night, the Cavaliers turned back Mike Hollins At first I thought it was exploding balloons.
Hollins then saw the alleged gunman, former Virginia football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., and yelled at the driver to stop the bus. Hollins and two other students escape from the bus, but he soon realizes that no one is following them.
Hollins, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told the two students to keep running, but he got back on the bus to help others, according to his mother, Brenda Hollins.
“His classmates are grateful to him because they say he saved their lives,” Brenda Hollins told ESPN on Thursday. “He was the first to get off the bus and asked two of his colleagues to run and came back.
He said, “Mom, I’m back.” I needed to do something. I was going to bang the windows because nobody got off the bus. He said, “I would hit the windows. I would get on the bus and tell them to get on and off.”
But when Mike reached the first step of the bus, he was confronted by Jones, who Mike said was pointing a gun at him. Mike said he turned to run, and Jones shot him in the back.
“The only thing he remembers is that he tried to turn around, but he saw him raise the gun,” Brenda said. “His back felt hot and he ran.”
According to Brenda, Mike said he started running towards a parking garage and took his shirt off. He saw a bullet protruding from his stomach.
“He feared that if he ran too far in the parking garage, no one would find him and he would die,” said Brenda.
Mike pulled over, and the medical student who was on the bus helped him until the emergency crew arrived.
Virginia football players Devin ChandlerAnd the Lavell Davis Jr. And the Dean Berry They were killed in the shooting. Another student, Marley Morgan, was also shot and is believed to be in good condition.
Hollins could have avoided being shot if he had not returned to the bus. His mother was not surprised by his actions that night.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Brenda said. “It would surprise me if he didn’t. This is Mike, so it didn’t surprise me.”
Nor was Cavaliers coach Tony Elliott surprised when he learned of Hollins’ bravery.
“It’s the character he has,” Elliott said. “That work in you before you get to that moment. One of the things we talk about on his show is working towards becoming heroes. We talk about heroes versus zeros. And men who set out to be heroic often fail, but it’s the average guy who does what he does.” It’s what he’s supposed to do in those adverse moments who becomes a hero.It’s an example of his character.
“He’s the kind of guy who cares about everyone. He had other teammates on the bus, and he was down for his teammates. One of the things we talk about on this show is love, and what is love and what is the highest form of love. The highest form of love.” “One form of love is sacrifice, giving your life for someone else. He reacted exactly as I expected. He thought about his teammates. He didn’t care if he put himself back in harm’s way, but he was going to check on his teammates.”
Jones, who was a player on the 2018 Virginia football team, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Prosecutors also charged him with two counts of willful wounding and additional handgun charges related to the shooting of Hollins and Morgan. He is being held without bail in the Charlottesville Jail.
According to Commonwealth Solicitor James Hingley, a passenger on the bus told police that Jones was aiming at people and was not shooting at random. An eyewitness also told police that Jones shot and killed Chandler in his sleep.
Brenda said she forgave Jones for what he had done.
“I already have,” she said. “I had to recover so I could help my son. I mean, I don’t have a choice. I have to, and then I have to move on to help my kid.”
Mike had emergency surgery Sunday night and another surgery Tuesday to explore damage to his kidneys and abdomen. Brenda said he was taken out of intensive care, taken off a ventilator, and walked for the first time on Wednesday.
“He’s recovering,” Brenda said. “Mentally and physically, he’s having a hard time. He doesn’t know why everything happened, why he was shot once, why he’s here and not his friends.”
Brenda said the doctors wanted her to wait until after Mike’s second surgery to tell him about the deaths of Chandler, Davis, and Perry. When Mike was intubated and couldn’t speak, he asked for his teammates by writing their names on a dry erase board.
“We had to tell him we had no information,” Brenda said. “We told him that because of the seriousness of the situation, it was confidential and we couldn’t get any information out. I don’t think he believed us. He’d raise his hands and I had this look on his face, and I know he was like, ‘Why?’ What you mean?”
“We couldn’t tell him because we needed his vitals to stay in place because he had an upcoming surgery. They didn’t want any complications.”
Immediately after Mike’s recovery from his second surgery, his family broke the devastating news that his teammates were gone.
“He was waiting,” said Brenda. Right after they removed the ventilator, I heard him say, ‘Thank you, Doc.’ I didn’t hear him speak, so it was just a blessing to hear his voice. And as soon as we walked in, that was his question: ‘Where’s D’Sean?’ My daughter was standing near him, and he looked at her, shook her head, and said, “He’s gone.”
“Mike’s cry was so deep, like a cry from his soul. It was like a cry I had never heard before in my life. It was so deep. His scream was so deep. There was nothing I could do. I could grab him and pull him to me and hug him because he was hurt.” I can’t move it. It was as if he was alone at that moment. We were there, but he was lonely.”
Mike Hollins and Perry, a Miami junior, were especially close. Brenda said her son said, “Mom, I don’t know how I’m going to live without him.”
“Mike, you will live for them,” said Brenda. “You will live for it.”
Cavaliers coach Marks Haggans, who coached Chandler and Davis, knows that Hollins’ path back will be as much about his mental recovery as it is his physical recovery.
“Mike Hollins, I mean, he’s so lucky he got away, but he has to live with not only a scar, but the pain of knowing he was on the bus when three of his teammates died,” Haggans said. “It’s not just something you pass on. He’ll always remember those sounds, that smell, that sight for the rest of his life, and that’s a heavy burden to bear.”
Brenda had seen her son the day before the shooting. Virginia’s 37-7 loss to Pittsburgh at Scott Stadium on November 12 attended, in which Mike had eight carries for 23 yards. They had dinner together after the game, and she was back in Baton Rouge on Sunday.
During dinner, Mike talks about how excited he is to go on a field trip to Washington, DC. He was not a student in the African American Playwrights Course. Berry encouraged him to go on a field trip.
Brenda said Mike talked about how he wished they could drive to see Emmett Till play, but Perry encouraged him to get on the bus. They were excited to meet the other students on the trip.
Brenda said Mike told her he didn’t know Jones, 22, who was still enrolled in classes in Virginia. Mike said he and Jones interacted once on the trip, where they said to each other, “What’s up?”
When Brenda’s phone rang around 10:40 p.m. Sunday night, she recognized a number from the Charlottesville area code and feared the worst. A doctor tells her that Mike was shot and is going into emergency surgery. His father, Mike Hollins, lives in Fairfax, Virginia, and his mother, Brenda, is from Portsmouth, Virginia. They were able to get to UVA Medical Center early Monday morning; Brenda arrives later that day.
“I was devastated,” said Brenda. “Just coming into his room, I saw his feet first and they weren’t moving. And then I heard the machines and saw him just laying there. He was on a ventilator. The worst thing I could ever imagine seeing him in the world.”
The doctors tell Brenda that Mike will need months of rehabilitation during his recovery. He wouldn’t be able to lift anything for three months. She said he was determined to get back on the soccer field. At least one season of eligibility remained; He did not play in any games during the COVID-19 off season in 2020.
“We believe in God’s will,” said Brenda. “Doctors can tell us anything. But Mike, paid. He’s going back on the field. He’s going to pick up somebody’s ball. He’s going to come back… because he knows God and he knows he’s here for a reason. He survived for a reason.”
Mike is scheduled to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Virginia in December. His mother said he had to write four papers to fulfill the degree requirements. He is determined to walk through the graduation stage with his classmates.
“This will be a blessing,” said Brenda. “It’s a blessing because he’s walking with his three brothers on his back, and that’s exactly how he’s going to feel because he misses them. And so he’s determined, and if he’s going to graduate, he’s going to walk.”