Army vet attacks Oregon gunman in effort to save classmates but gets shot 7 times

Chris Mintz together with his wife and son Tyrik in a photo posted on his Facebook page.(Facebook/Chris Mintz)

In many tragedies, someone almost always stands out as a hero for showing courage and selfless sacrifice to fellowmen.

In last Thursday's massacre at the Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, Oregon, one student—30-year-old Army veteran Chris Mintz—displayed humankind's finest qualities when he tried to save his classmates when a gunman suddenly entered a classroom and started shooting.

Mintz charged at the gunman—later identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer—who shot him seven times, his cousin Derek Bourgeois told the Daily Mail.

"I was told he went after the shooter," Bourgeois said. "There was no way he was going to stand around and watch something this horrific happen."

Fortunately the seven bullets Mintz received did not hit any of his vital organs, his family said, adding that the doctors were optimistic of his recovery after surgery.

The bullets broke both of Mintz's legs, his family said.

Speaking to NBC News, Sheila Brown said her nephew Mintz "tried to protect some people" during the shooting.

"He was on the wrestling team and he's done cage-fighting so it does not surprise me that he would act heroically," Brown said.

She said Mintz served in the Army for 10 years and had just started college.

On that fateful Thursday morning, Mintz started his day by wishing his six-year-old son Tyrik "happy birthday" on Facebook before he headed to the community college where he is enrolled, his family said.

As he lay bloodied on the floor after being shot, he was heard telling the gunman, "It's my son's birthday," according to the Daily Beast.

Meanwhile, authorities and family members have revealed the identities of the nine shooting victims. One of them was 19-year-old student Lucero Alcaraz, a first-year UCC student who aspired to be a paediatric nurse.

The second victim was Jason Johnson, who earlier told his mother that he was determined to turn his life around after struggling with drug addiction.

Two more slain UCC students—Lucas Eibel and Rebecka Carnes, both 18 years old—were identified by their families. Carnes was a star softball player in high school and was studying to become a dental hygienist. Eibel was a quadruplet whose two brothers and a sister Alexis also graduated from high school this year.

The fifth victim was identified as Treven Anspach, 20, who was described as "an amazing soccer player who graduated from Roseburg High School with high academic marks."

Kim Dietz, 72, was the oldest victim in the massacre. A divorcee with one daughter, she was holding a lecture when the gunman burst in and started shooting.

The seventh victim was identified as Quinn Cooper, 18, who was described by his family as a "funny, sweet, compassionate and such a wonderful loving person."

Teacher Lawrence Levine was also gunned down by Mercer. A witness said it was his class that Mercer targeted in the massacre.

The ninth victim was identified as Sarena Dawn Moore, 44.