TALLAHASSEE — The moment Myron May began spraying bullets outside the Florida State University library Thursday, Farhan "Ronny" Ahmed knew his life had changed.
"Ronny immediately knew something was wrong because one of the first bullets struck his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the waist down," his sister, Farhana Ahmed, said Monday.
Ahmed, a 21-year-old student from Orlando, remained at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital on Monday, his condition upgraded from critical to serious.
Ahmed had been studying for final exams before the shooting began, his sister said. He was struck three times. Farhana Ahmed said her brother's life was likely saved by the quick response from FSU police. Officers killed May within minutes of the first shot.
On Sunday, Ronny Ahmed's friends set up a fundraising website to help his family with the medical bills and long-term costs.
The page had raised more than $70,000 in donations by Monday evening, and more than 19,000 people had shared the link through Facebook, Twitter or email.
The creator of the site, FSU student Chase Roberts, said Ahmed also sustained injuries to his arm and chest.
"Ronny was the first student shot, but despite his wounds was able to alert authorities in time for them to subdue his attacker," Roberts wrote on the site, hosted by YouCaring.com.
Farhana Ahmed, who traveled from Orlando to take care of her younger brother, said she was touched by the outpouring of support from the Florida State community.
"Tons of people have asked if they could donate," she said. "Tons of people have brought food."
There was a steady stream of Florida State students carrying flowers and stuffed animals into the hospital Monday afternoon.
Ronny Ahmed is studying to become a biomedical engineer, his sister said. He graduated from Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, where he was active in community service organizations. Farhana Ahmed described her brother as a "socially conscious kid" with a heart for helping others and a soft spot for animals.
She said his passion for science fairs had led him to Florida State's biomedical engineering program.
FSU president John Thrasher said the university was "100 percent committed" to making sure Ahmed realizes his dream of graduating.
Two other men were injured in Thursday's shooting. Elijah Velez, a freshman from Miramar whose side was grazed by a bullet, was treated on campus. Library employee Nathan Scott, who was struck in the leg by a bullet, was released from the hospital Friday.
Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.