Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr. did not shy away from his duty to serve when Patrick Crusius, 21, terrorized a Walmart full of civilians in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, August 3, killing at least 20 people and threatened the lives of many more.
The 22-year-old army specialist is now being regarded as a hero after he rescued a number of children from the scene.
Oakley belongs to the 504th Composite Supply Company, 142nd Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas, according to Task & Purpose.
While shopping at a store in the Cielo Vista Mall, he was alerted to the massacre by a child who shouted that there was an active shooter in the Walmart located in the mall. Oakley initially hesitated because he didn’t believe the child; then, he heard gunshots, which prompted him to pull out his concealed gun and contemplate his next move.
The automated logistics specialist ran into Foot Locker employees trying to make their way out of the mall. He began to escort the employees out when he came across children running around in an open play area in fear.
It became clear to Oakley that the kids needed his help to get out of the mall.
“I didn’t even think. I just grabbed as many kids as I could and ran five stores down to the exit,” he told Task & Purpose. “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 was not the only person to stay behind and usher children to safety during the traumatic event; however, he did tell reporters that he tried to get more people to stay behind and help children to safety.
“I wish I could have gotten more kids out of there,” he said. “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?”