A US Army veteran has been hailed a hero after carrying several young children to safety during the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
US Army specialist Glendon Oakley had been shopping at a sports store at the Cielo Vista Mall when a child came in and informed him there was an active shooter at the nearby Walmart.
At first, Oakley, of Killeen, Texas, didn’t believe what he was hearing. However, after entering the shopping plaza he could hear the shots being fired.
After hearing shots being fired, Oakley drew his licensed handgun before searching for a hiding place. He then noticed people fleeing. As he prepared to flee, he spotted a group of frightened children and proceeded to carry out as many as possible.
Speaking with an MSNBC reporter, Oakley recalled the moment an ordinary shopping trip turned into a nightmare:
Me and the guy that works there were like “He’s a kid” so we didn’t believe him.
I walked out the mall to go to Footlocker. I hear “Bop! Bop!”
Oakley proceeded to explain how he managed to escape from the mall while carrying multiple children in his arms:
They just dipped. So I ran with them. I just tried to make my way to the parking lot.
[…] I got my bag in my hand. I’m trying to pick them up, as many as I can, just run out.
But they’re so anxious, they’re, like, jumping out of my hands.
After emerging from the mall, Oakley was confronted by an officer who was unsure if Oakley, was a potential victim or the then unidentified shooter.
Oakley told MSNBC:
When I got out, I guess one of the cops thought I was the shooter or something.
So I had to show ’em my clip and stuff, show ’em I had my license to carry. He said I was fine […]
I was just so worried about those kids man. I’m just worried about those kids. I wasn’t really worried about myself. I just hope those kids are alright.
This man on @cnn who scooped up children to get them out is US Army Specialist Glendon Oakley. I hope I spelled it right. Another man also helped him get children to safety. Heroes. They are heroes. #elpasoshooting #EnoughIsEnough #ENOUGH pic.twitter.com/fRQt50uINR
— Randy (@RandyRNB) August 3, 2019
— B (@HateMeNow502) August 4, 2019
People have taken to social media to praise the Army veteran for showing such heroism under such terrifying circumstances, and have encouraged others to share his picture rather than one of the shooter.
One person tweeted, ‘thank God for people like Glendon Oakley’, while another said, ‘there should be more people like Glendon Oakley’.
Retired @USArmy Specialist #GlendonOakley immediately went into action & didn’t think twice as he selflessly started grabbing young kids running them to safety while an active shooter with a semi automatic assault rifle was shooting up Cielo Vista Mall killing 15+. #ElPaso pic.twitter.com/9nOTthUfha
— Blue Sky Girl (@BlueMiamiGirl) August 3, 2019
Glendon Oakley, you’re a great man. Saw you on the news, talking about picking up kids & carrying them out of the mall. God bless you bro.
— Chris aka Craig (@whatup_CRAIG) August 3, 2019
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) August 3, 2019
Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the El Paso, Texas, mass shooting and those in Ohio.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.