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ROSEBURG, Oregon — As a gunman went from classroom to classroom, opening fire on students at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College Thursday, Chris Mintz knew he had to do something.

When the gunman, Chris Harper Mercer, tried to enter the army veteran’s class, Mintz, 30, told the students in his classroom to get to a safe place and said, “you’re not getting by me.”

“At that point, the shooter shot him five times and the shooter moved on and apparently didn’t go in to that classroom,” Pastor Dennis Kreiss told People. “I applaud the guy’s heroism. He may have saved the people in that classroom.”

“Tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in, gets shot three times, hits the floor, looks up at gunman and says its my son’s birthday today, gets shot two more times,” Chris’ aunt, Wanda Mintz, told Q13.

In all, the gunman killed least nine people and wounded others. One survivor says the gunman demanded that his victims state their religion before he started shooting. Mercer was eventually shot and killed by police.

Mintz is originally from Randleman, North Carolina, but has lived in Oregon for at least 10 years. He’d been in the military for at least 10 years, they said, and was in Oregon primarily to raise his son. Thursday was Mintz’ fourth day in his second year of classes at Umpqua.

It was his son’s sixth birthday.

Mintz spent most of the day Thursday in surgery. Mintz’s family says his legs are broken, and he will have to learn to walk again. But he is expected to survive; no vital organs were hit.

“His vital signs are OK he’s going to have to learn to walk again but he walked away with his life and that’s more than so many other people did,” Ariana Earnhardt, Chris’ cousin, told Q13.

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