Twenty-two-year-old Army automated logistics specialist Glendon Oakley was shopping at Fanatics sporting goods store, buying a jersey in El Paso’s Cielo Vista Mall, when a small child ran into the store and said there was an active shooter in Walmart. Just a few minutes later, he would become a hero to multiple children.
In an interview with CNN, Oakley said he didn’t initially believe the child, so he went to Foot Locker and that was when he heard the gun shots for himself. Immediately, he pulled his own weapon—which he can carry concealed under Texas law as an active-duty soldier—an instinct from his Army training. He said that Foot Locker employees closed the gate at the front of the store, but a few people lifted it to flee, and he left the store with them. That’s the moment, he said, when he saw numerous children without their parents near an open play area.
“I saw a whole bunch of kids running around without their parents. 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… I just peeled out, I just helped the kids make it out safe… I was worried about the kids more than myself,” Oakley told news cameras on the scene.
Oakley also spoke with Task & Purpose about his heroism: “I didn’t even think. I just grabbed as many kids as I could and ran five stores down to the exit,” he 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.”
He credited his Army training for his quick actions, telling Task & Purpose, “That’s what you do. You pull your gun, you find cover, and you figure out what to do next.”
After the shootings in both El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, yesterday, it’s heartbreaking that we need heroes like Oakley. But in times like these, we need heroes more than ever.