A Fort Bliss soldier is being hailed as a hero after he helped evacuate children from a Texas shopping mall during a deadly mass shooting on Saturday.
Pvt. 1st Class Glendon Oakley Jr., an automated logistical specialist assigned to the 504th Composite Supply Company stationed at Fort Bliss, was among hundreds of customers at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso when a gunman opened fire.
At least 20 people died and 26 others were wounded.
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen described the attack to reporters as “a hate crime.”
The suspected gunman is alive and in police custody.
In an interview with MSNBC, Oakley said he was shopping at a Foot Locker when a child ran into the store and reported the mass shooting. Seconds later, he heard gunfire.
Oakley, who has a gun permit, drew his weapon and ran out of the store.
“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,” he told the news station.
“I’m in the military, so when I hear gunshots, I just think ‘take cover.’ But I was so worried about those kids.”
Oakley’s story began circulating as news of the shooting spread, with many on social media calling for more coverage of his heroic actions in lieu of details of the shooter’s life.
Fort Bliss officials did not issue an official statement about Oakley’s actions, but did confirm his status in the Army. They also noted that he has received the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
In a statement, White House officials said President Donald Trump was receiving updates throughout the day from his national security team. Federal officials were deployed to El Paso to help local authorities with their response to the shooting.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.