This Fort Bliss soldier carried children to safety during the El Paso shooting

Elizabeth Howe
August 04, 2019 - 11:41 am

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

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During a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, the quick actions of one soldier from Fort Bliss may have saved the lives of multiple children. 

Pvt. 1st Class Glendon Oakley Jr. was in a Footlocker at the Cielo Vista Mall when he heard gunshots. He, like the hundreds of other customers in the store, started moving. But his military training kicked in when he saw children without their parents mixed in with the chaos. 

“I saw a whole bunch of kids running around without their parents … I tried to pick up as many as I could and bring them with me,” Oakley told MSNBC. “I’m in the military, so when I hear gunshots, I just think ‘take cover.’ But I was so worried about those kids.”

Oakley told CNN that there were about 13 children, but he could only carry three under his arms -- and it wasn't easy. 

"I was just focused on the kids, I wasn't really worried about myself. So just put my head down and just ran as fast as I could," Oakley told CNN. "They were anxious, when they were in my arms, they were trying to jump out of my arms but trying to keep them as tight as possible. They are kids, so they don't understand what is going on."

Personnel from Fort Bliss confirmed Oakley's Army status and provided that he has received the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. Note, the original classification as a specialist was incorrect. 

The gunman, currently in police custody, is suspected to have committed a hate crime according to El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen.

At least 20 were killed in the shooting and 26 others were wounded. Fortunately, the children carried out of the mall by Oakley were not among them.