An Army soldier is being hailed a hero for saving the lives of several children during the shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday.
Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr., 22, said he was inside a sporting goods store at the Cielo Vista Mall when a child ran inside and began shouting that there was an active shooter nearby.
Oakley then exited the store and made his way to Foot Locker when he heard gunshots and immediately pulled out the Glock 9mm he said he occasionally carries with him.
This is Glen Oakley.
He was in the @FootLocker when the El Paso shooting happened. When he ran to leave, he saw kids in the mall without their parents, scared and alone.
So he picked up as many as he could and carried them to safety.
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) August 3, 2019
“I am in the military and I’ve got my license to carry, so all I think about is get my gun out and think fast,” Oakley told reporters.
Breitbart News reported that the alleged shooter killed 20 people and wounded 26 others during the tragic event on Saturday morning.
Oakley said once he exited the store, he saw children running everywhere. A group of them were huddled together in the mall’s play area, screaming for their parents. He said he tried to get others to help him get them to safety, but no one stopped.
“I try to get a couple of other people too, you know, grab other kids, but parents are so worried about themselves, they’re gone,” he commented.
“I’m just thinking about the kids, so I pick up as many as possible and carry them with me and another guy does as well,” he said, adding, “I wasn’t really worried about myself. I was worried about the kids.”
Oakley told reporters that he does not have children, but said in the circumstances, he did “what I would want somebody else to do” if he was a parent.
Once the group made it back inside the Foot Locker, employees closed the metal security gate but then decided to open it and make a run for the mall’s exits.
“I didn’t even think. I just grabbed as many kids as I could and ran five stores down to the exit,” Oakley said. “We got there and ran into a whole batch of police pointing their guns at us. I wasn’t focused on myself, and I wasn’t focused on my surroundings … I was just focused on those kids.”
After police secured the area, Oakley said he wished he could have done more for the children whose lives were taken so suddenly.
“I heard four kids died,” he said. “I wish I could have gotten more kids out of there. I wish those guys who ran would have stayed … I just think, what if that was my child? How would I want some other man to react?”
Oakley, who recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait, is stationed at Fort Bliss and his awards include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.