Over the weekend, a devastating shooting took place at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas, claiming the lives of 20 people, and injuring many more. Amongst those at the shopping center was Glen Oakley, an Army specialist, that stepped in to save the lives of many children that day while risking his own.
Oakley was shopping at Foot Locker when a child ran by the entrance, yelling that a shooter was in the nearby Walmart. Shortly after that, gunfire could be heard, causing Foot Locker employees to close the front entrance to the store.
Even though they closed the gate, Oakley and fellow shoppers decided to make a run for it, lifting the gate to escape.
On his way to safety, Oakley came across a group of small children, who were scared, and didn’t know what to do, or where to go.
“We run towards Dillard’s, and it’s like a playpen over there. I see a whole bunch of kids like, without their parents running around screaming and crying, so I grab as many as possible,” Oakley told CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV.
“I tried to make my way to the parking lot and I see a whole bunch of kids just running around without their parents so I’m trying to pick them up as many as I can and just run out. They were so anxious and jumping out of my hands so I just made my way out,” Oakley added to local NBC affiliate, KTSM.
He told KTSM that he tried to get other adults to help him get the kids all rallied together, and to safety, but most were too worried about their own safety to stop.
“I try to get a couple of other people too, you know, grab other kids, but parents are so worried about themselves, they’re gone,” Oakley said.
This is Glen Oakley.
He was in the @FootLocker when the El Paso shooting happened. When he ran to leave, he saw kids in the mall without their parents, scared and alone.
So he picked up as many as he could and carried them to safety.
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) August 3, 2019
The next day, in an interview with KDBC, Oakley said that he was not trying to be a hero, he was just doing what he knew he had to do.
“I understand it was heroic and I’m looked at as a hero for it…but that wasn’t the reason for me,” he said.
“I know what I did was heroic but I’m more focused on the families that were lost and the kids that died and the people that died,” Oakley said. “I’m more focused on the families that were lost. I want to reach out to the families that were lost and the families that lost their children.”
Oakley pointed out that part of the reason he did not think twice about jumping in and helping was because of what being in the military taught him.
“That is what the military has taught me to do, and that why I am thankful to be in the military and what they have taught me.”
Oakley, who doesn’t have kids of his own, has a goddaughter that he would do anything for, just like he did for the children at the shopping center.
“I protect her like she’s mine,” he said. “In times like this, don’t be scared to put others before yourself because that’s the way I was raised, to put others before myself.’