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Mother of UVA running back says her son uttered an agonizing cry when he learned his friend had died in bus shooting

<i>Joe Gipson</i><br/>New photos of University of Virginia shooting victim Mike Hollins in the hospital. Brenda is Mike's mom.
Joe Gipson
Joe Gipson
New photos of University of Virginia shooting victim Mike Hollins in the hospital. Brenda is Mike's mom.

By Melissa Alonso, CNN

Brenda Hollins, the mother of one of two students wounded in the shooting at University of Virginia last week, told ESPN that when her son learned his best friend was among those killed, she heard “a cry I never heard before in my life.”

Mike Hollins is a UVA running back from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was one of two people injured in the shooting. Three football players were also killed late Sunday at the school’s main campus in Charlottesville as a bus returned from a class field trip, CNN has reported.

He is currently in the hospital after being shot and was recently able to speak for the first time since the incident occurred, Brenda told ESPN.

When his family walked into the hospital room after doctors removed the UVA junior’s ventilator, they heard him speak for the first time as he was thanking the doctor.

His first question to his family followed: “Where’s D’Sean?”

D’Sean Perry was one of the three people killed and he was Mike’s best friend, said his mother.

“The room went silent, and so he knew,” she said. “Mike’s cry was so deep, it was like, coming from his soul. It was like a cry I never heard before in my life. It was so deep.”

His mother said she couldn’t do anything to comfort her son. “I can’t move him,” she said. “It was like he was alone in that moment — we were there — but he was alone because we couldn’t really physically embrace him.”

The family had initially kept the news of Perry’s death from him. While he was still intubated, they did not want to upset him.

Hollins was injured Sunday when a fellow student fatally shot three other UVA football players — Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry — and wounded another student on a bus returning to campus from a class field trip.

The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces three charges of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said. He also faces two counts of malicious wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge.

Jones was on the field trip Sunday to see a play in Washington, DC, when authorities said the 22-year-old opened fire on the bus, killing Chandler, Davis and Perry.

The circumstances behind the shooting that has shattered the Charlottesville community remains under police investigation.

Student Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV she was on the bus where the shooting took place and saw Jones push one of the victims.

“Chris got up and pushed Lavel,” Lynch said. “After he pushed him, he was like ‘You guys are always messing with me.’ Said something weird like that, but it was very bizarre because they didn’t talk to him the whole trip.”

Lynch then heard gunfire, she told KYW.

“They just kept coming, more and more gunshots,” she said. “We thought he was going to shoot everyone on the bus.”

But “the shooter just kind of walked or, like, skipped off the bus,” Lynch said.

Jones had his first court appearance on Wednesday where the court ordered that he be held without bond. He remains in custody in Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, online records show.

On Thursday, university officials requested an independent review of the shooting.

In a letter to Attorney General Jason Miyares, UVA President Jim Ryan and University Rector Whitt Clement asked for the appointment of “outside special counsel with expertise … to conduct an independent review of the University’s response to the shooting, as well as the efforts the University undertook in the period before the tragedy.”

A memorial service will be held on Saturday at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Joe Johns, Aileen Graef and Holly Yan contributed to this report.

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