After a bullet ripped into her back, shattering five vertebrae, Umpqua Community College shooting victim Ana Boylan laid completely motionless while the gunman questioned if she was alive or dead, her brother tells PEOPLE.
Ana, 18, was sitting next to her good friend, 16-year-old Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, in the Writing 115 class when the shooting started on Thursday, her brother Korre Boylan says. The 18-year-old who graduated from nearby Douglas High School in the spring, was on her fourth day of classes at the college. She planned to study business.
Korre says his sister told him that shooter Chris Harper-Mercer entered the classroom and began firing, emptying one clip quickly and killing the teacher, Larry Levine.
“She doesn’t remember exactly when she got hit, but assumes it was in the initial firing,” Korre, 20, says. “He asked all of them to move to the center of the room, he went around systematically asking people what their religion was.”
Harper-Mercer then ordered Ana to get up and move to the center of the room, but she didn’t respond to his orders, Korre says. “He said, blond girl in the black jacket, get up,” he says. “He asked Cheyeanne, ‘Is your friend alive or dead?’ and she said she didn’t know. He left my sister, assuming she was dead, and continued to commit the act.”
The bullet missed Ana’s spinal cord and lungs by millimeters, Korre says. Initially, her injuries were so grave that she was one of three victims flown to Springfield, Oregon, for a higher level of care. Ana is now in fair condition, hospital officials confirmed Sunday.
Ana is able to do some walking with the help of a walker already, but the family says she will have a lot of physical therapy and recovery. They’ve set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the medical costs. Korre adds that his sister will also have to work to recover from the trauma of the day, as well.
“Her sense of security is shattered,” he says. “Her sense of trust in strangers will never be the same. I can see in her eyes that she’s in shock about what she did see and hear. She was an innocent young 18-year-old girl, ready to take on the world with an open mind, and he took that away from her.”
He says his sister hasn’t been able to talk in great detail about the horrific day, but she has said that she wished she had known her fellow classmates better.
“That saying about living life every day as if it’s your last – [Ana] said she always heard people say it and she never understood what that meant until this happened,” says Korre. “She is so sad and her heart is with the community and all the families going through this. She wants people to be strong, be brave and we’re going to get through this together.”
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