02/10/2015 12:29 BST | Updated 02/10/2015 12:59 BST

Oregon Shooting Hero Chris Mintz Shot 7 Times Charging Gunman

An Army veteran, who reportedly charged at a gunman who killed nine people during a college shooting in the United States, is being hailed a hero.

Chris Mintz, 30, was shot up to seven times by Chris Harper Mercer during his rampage at Umpqua Community College on Thursday.

Mintz, who is studying to become a fitness instructor, “tried to protect some people” during the shooting, his aunt Shelia Brown told NBC News.

chris mintz

Chris Mintz reportedly charged at Oregon gunman Chris Harper Mercer

“We’re told he did some heroic things to protect some people,” she added.

"He could have very easily died," his aunt, Wanda Mintz, told Q13 Fox. "I really think that if he wasn't such a strong, young guy, he may have died.”

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Mintz, who had earlier in the day posted a “happy birthday” message to his six-year-old son, was shot in the back, abdomen and hands, and was heard murmuring: “It’s my son’s birthday, it’s my son’s birthday,” as he lay wounded.

Mintz, whose legs were also broken in the incident, had apparently blocked a classroom door to keep the gunman at bay.

chris harpermercer

Gunman Chris Harper-Mercer was killed

Harper Mercer died following a shootout with police.

Mintz, who joined the army after graduating from high school and had successfully completed his combat deployment with no serious injuries, was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery.

An image apparently showing him smiling in his hospital bed has been posted on Imgur, captioned: “Chris Mints [sic], the hero that charged the UCC shooter to help save others is doing fine after having surgery to remove 7 bullets. What a guy.”

oregon shooting

Relatives and friends comfort each other in the wake of the shooting

A cousin told The Daily Beast: “From what I’m hearing, he’s fine. But he’s going to have to learn to walk again.”

A message posted on a Facebook page reportedly belonging to the father-of-one said on Friday: “This is Chris’s friend. Chris asked me to thank everyone for their support, he is grateful and keeping our community and all victims in his thoughts.”

Police were not saying whether they knew of any motive.

Photo gallery Umpqua Community College Shooting See Gallery