A student who survived the mass shooting at an Oregon community college said she pitied the gunman who killed nine and wounded nine others, including herself.
“In all honesty, I feel sorry for him," Anastasia 'Ana' Boylan, 18, who was shot in the back during the massacre at Umpqua Community College last Thursday, told NBC News.
“I feel bad for him. I just wish he could’ve not done that," Boylan said of Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, who opened fire on her 10 a.m. English composition class. He is believed to have then committed suicide.
Boylan pretended to be dead after getting hit, family members wrote on a GoFundMe page, which was created to offset medical expenses.
"Miraculously the bullet missed all vital organs and the surgeon was able to remove the bullet from near her spine with no apparent damage to her body," her family wrote on the page.
Boylan was released from the hospital four days after the shooting. She used a wheelchair to get around as she has yet to regain full feeling in one of her legs.
She was shot on her fourth day of college.
"I almost lost my life," she told NBC News. "It's never going to leave my mind."
Boylan recounted that after being shot, all she could think about was "hopefully, in some way, my family and my friends, and the family and friends of my class[mates], would be OK.
"My heroes and my idols are my peers that were in the classroom with me and experienced all of this with me,” she continued. “I will always share my religion and my thoughts and my spirits with everyone because their hearts and their souls will never be forgotten.”
Boylan's bravery and compassion resonated with her father, Stacey, who wrote on his daughter's fundraising page: "The things she says make me so proud and grateful to have such a brilliant young light that still shines in my life. I have been brought low, by this event, and she gives me strength."