Orlando native Farhan "Ronny" Ahmed, one of three people injured Thursday when a gunman opened fire at Florida State University's Strozier Library, was shot three times, including once in the spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
His sister, Farhana Ahmed, said during a news conference Monday at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare that her 21-year-old brother was studying for final exams the night of the shooting. He was studying biomedical engineering and set to graduate in about a year and a half.
"Ronny ... immediately knew that something was wrong because one of the bullets, one of the first bullets, struck his spine," she said.
Ahmed's condition has been upgraded at TMH from critical to serious. The hospital issued a news release saying that one of the bullets severely damaged his spinal cord and that his physicians expect him to be paralyzed from the waist down.
"But despite his injuries, he's alive," she said. "And we're so grateful that he's here with us."
Two others were injured in the shooting: Nathan Scott, 30, a library worker who was shot in the leg and released from the hospital Friday, and Elijah Velez, 18, a freshman who was grazed by a bullet and treated at the scene.
The gunman, Myron May, a 31-year-old FSU graduate who friends said was showing signs of mental illness, was shot and killed by police moments after he began firing outside the library.
Ahmed specifically thanked the university, her brother's "incredible team" of doctors and nurses and the police officers who rushed to the scene.
"I know one of the first people on the scene were the police, who if not for their quick response, probably a lot more students would have gotten hurt," she said. "And Ronny himself probably was saved by the quickness of their actions."
Ahmed graduated from Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando. His sister described him as a socially conscious young man who did volunteer work involving animals, which she said "he has a really soft spot for." She said he was always interested in science and was an avid science-fair competitor, which led to the field of biomedical engineering.
"And of course he picked FSU to realize that dream," she said. "So his focus on biomedical engineering is really to try to do good in the world — and that's how he always thought of his career in the future."
She said FSU and President John Thrasher have been "amazingly supportive."
"They're 100 percent committed to making sure Ronny goes back and fulfills his dream of becoming a biomedical engineer," she said. "And they're doing everything they can to make that happen."
Thrasher, who visited with the injured student on Friday, said the university will do everything it can "to fulfill Ronny's dream, as Farhana said, of achieving his goal of graduating from Florida State University. And we're going to work with her and her family to do that and continue to support them in any way we can."
Farhana Ahmed said friends of her brother have started an online fundraising effort to help take care of his long-term needs. As of early Tuesday, more than $86,000 had been donated through the website youcaring.com/FSUronny.
"Tons of people came forward and asked if they could donate," she said. "Tons of people came forward and offered food and shelter and all sorts of things to support our family during this time. So I just wanted to say from the bottom of my heart and my family's heart that we are so appreciative and we are so grateful for the support of Tallahassee, FSU and everybody else in Florida state and the country who have told us we have their love and support during this time."