Virginia Shooting Victim Mike Hollins Now Aware of Teammates’ Deaths After Coming Off Ventilator

Mike Hollins, one of the victims of the University of Virginia bus shooting last weekend, has been taken off a ventilator and has since found out about his teammates’ deaths, his mother told ESPN.

The UVA running back was shot in the back Sunday night following a class field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C., as three of his teammates — junior wide receivers Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry, a junior linebacker and defensive end — died in the incident.

“He’s recovering,” his mother, Brenda Hollins, said Thursday. “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.”

Brenda, who previously said that her son couldn’t speak and had to use a pen and paper to communicate while in the hospital, said she was advised by doctors not to tell her son about his friends’ deaths before a second surgery to keep his vitals stable.

“We had to tell him that we had no information,” 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?'”

But after his second surgery was over on Wednesday, Brenda said she heard Mike speak for the first time, before he asked where Perry, one of his closest friends, was. Mike’s sister delivered the news that he had died.

“Mike’s cry was so deep it was like coming from his soul. It was like a cry I’d never heard before in my life. It was so deep. His cry was so deep,” Brenda said. “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.”

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Mike, who walked for the first time Wednesday after surgery on Sunday night and Tuesday, said he didn’t know how he was “going to live without” Perry, per his mother. He also recounted the details of the shooting to his family, she said, explaining that he initially thought balloons were going off before realizing a shooting was taking place.

Mike and two other students were the first to escape the charter bus, but he told them to keep running and returned to the bus in an effort to help his other teammates.

“He said, ‘Mom, I went back. I needed to do something. I was going to beat on the windows because no one else was coming off the bus.’ He said, ‘I was going to beat on the windows. I was going to go on the bus and tell them to come on, get off.’ “