An off-duty soldier is drawing widespread praise after telling media how he picked up children during the El Paso shooting and carried them to safety.
Army specialist Glendon Oakley told the local television station KVIA that he was inside the Cielo Vista Mall when a young child approached and told him there was an active shooter inside the Walmart nearby.
“A little kid ran in there telling us ‘there’s an active shooter in Walmart,’ but we didn’t pay it no attention because for one it’s a just little kid, and for two we’re at the mall and not at Walmart,” Oakley said. “We just didn’t pay no mind.”
But Oakley said as he walked into a Foot Locker store, he heard two gunshots followed by the sounds of people starting to run and scream.
“I’m in the military, so when I hear the gunshots we’re trained to think fast. Grab your weapon, think fast, take cover, do anything you can,” he said.
He added that he had his gun with him, and was licensed to carry.
But as he fled the mall, he saw “a whole bunch of kids just running around without their parents.” He said he and another man acted quickly, and started scooping the children up.
“The only thing I think of is just to pick up as many kids as possible. Maybe a total of 13 kids running around, but I could only get about three. I think he grabbed three as well,” Oakley said. “I was just focused on the kids, I wasn’t really worried about myself. I put my head down and just ran as fast as I could.”
Texas officials said Saturday that 20 people were killed in the shooting, and another 26 were injured.
One suspect, a 21-year-old white male, is in custody, according to the El Paso Police Department. Investigators are looking into an anti-immigrant manifesto they believe the shooting suspect may have authored.