A soldier with the 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade was awarded the Army Commendation Medal during an award ceremony held at Fort Bliss on Wednesday for his act of heroism during the El Paso shooting.
Pfc. Glendon Oakley, an automated logistical supply specialist from Killeen, Texas, was at the Cielo Vista Mall, roughly 800 feet from the Walmart where the shooting took place on Aug. 3, according to a 1st Armored Division photo release.
The mall was separated from the Walmart by a parking lot, which prompted first responders to evacuate both buildings as the shooter attempted to flee.
At least 22 people died and 26 others were wounded by the shooter.
The shooting suspect, Patrick Crusius, 21, is in police custody. He is accused of targeting the border community because of its large Latino population.
In an interview with MSNBC, Oakley told the media that he was shopping at a Foot Locker when a child ran into the store and reported the mass shooting.
That was followed by sounds of 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 outlet.
Oakley took several panicked children at the mall and escorted them to police officers in the area.
“You could hear all of the chaos going around, and that’s when I did what I was trained to do,” Oakley said in an Army news story. “I quickly reacted and I thought to myself if my child were there how I would want someone else to react. I just took action and tried to get as many kids as possible.”
“I just thought about keeping them as close as I could, a couple of them were jumping out of my hands, but the ones I could keep with me, I made sure that they made it to where they needed to be,” Oakley added. “They were just scared, so I just did what I could do.”
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.