As Americans are still reeling from a string of mass shootings. it’s important to take a step back and recognize those who stepped in to help and save lives. Instead of fleeing after hearing gunshots in El Paso, Texas, Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr. pulled out his concealed Glock 9mm and rushed towards the gunfire.
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On Saturday, Oakley Jr. was in the neighboring mall located next to the Walmart where the shooting took place. In an interview with Task and Purpose, he recalled a group of kids running and yelling about an active shooter.
“The guy at the register and I sort of looked at each other,” Oakley told the publication. “He’s a little kid … are you going to believe him?” Sadly, the incident was real as a reported 20 people were killed by the shooter.
As people were fleeing towards the mall from Walmart, Oakley pulled his Glock 9mm out and proceeded out of the mall with a group of people. “That’s what you do,” he said. “You pull your gun, you find cover, and you figure out what to do next.”
As they proceeded to the front of the mall, Oakley saw a group of kids who were visibly scared, with some crying out for their mothers, Task and Purpose reported.
“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.”
In the moment, Oakley felt he could take on the world, but he wasn’t afraid to admit he was “scared for my life.”
After the gunman was apprehended, Oakley spoke about the regret he felt not being able to save more people, especially the kids who were killed. “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 had just returned from a tour in Kuwait four months prior.
The shooter killed 20 people and injured over 26 more. Prosecutors are planning to seek the death penalty. “He is eligible for the death penalty, we will seek the death penalty,” El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza told NBC News. “The loss of life is so great we have never seen anything like this in our community.”