Army Private Glendon Oakley Jr. Hailed As Hero For Carrying Children To Safety During El Paso Mass Shooting

A picture from the scene of the El Paso shooting.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Glendon Oakley Jr. knew just what he needed to do when a child burst into the El Paso store where he was shopping and said that a mass shooting was taking place nearby.

The U.S. Army private had been in a firefight before, so he ran to see where the shooting was taking place, pulled out the Glock 9mm he carried, and prepared to confront the gunman.

“That’s what you do,” he told Task & Purpose. “You pull your gun, you find cover, and you figure out what to do next.”

Oakley was inside the mall adjacent to the Walmart where the shooting was taking place. A group of employees inside the store decided to make a run for it, and Oakley followed along with them as something of an armed guard, the report noted. The group came across another group of close to a dozen children in a mall play area, screaming for their parents.

Oakley said he tried to get some other bystanders to help, then decided to take matters into his own hands.

“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.”

Oakley himself shared the story on Twitter, pointing out he he came from a rough upbringing as a “problem child” in Killeen, Texas, before turning his life around. Oakley commented that “God has something planned for me.”

Initial reports indicated that the shooting may have taken place both at the Walmart and inside the adjacent mall, though police efforts later focused in the Walmart. Video that circulated on social media showed a scene of chaos and carnage in the Walmart parking lot, where bodies were scattered on the ground in the immediate wake of the shooting.

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Police have not announced any motive in the attack.

Oakley’s heroic act was held up as one of the small bright points amid what was one of the worst mass shootings in the state’s history. As Army Times noted, many shared video of his interview on social media and called for more attention on Oakley rather than the shooting suspect. Many others took to his Twitter page to thank Glendon for his heroic act.