This weekend, we saw the lives of 22 people get taken away at in El Paso, Texas, Walmart when a man who was driven by hatred decided to open fire.
US Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr., who emerged at the scene to save the lives of several children, spoke with reporters on Sunday and recalled the tragic event, describing it as “the worst thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
“What I did was what I was supposed 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,” said Oakley, 22, an automated logistics specialist assigned to the 142nd Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Bliss.
“I’m just focused on the kids that I could not get and the families that were lost,” he added as he broke down in tears. “It hurts me. Like I lost — like they were part of me. I don’t even know the people that died or the kids that I took with me.”
“I didn’t get any sleep last night,” he told the reporters on Sunday. “I don’t want to think about what happened, because it was tragic. I’m telling you this was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in my life. And I don’t want to keep having flashbacks of what happened.”
“I don’t want to talk about what went on there, because I just want to forget about it all,” he continued.
According to reports, Oakley was off-duty shopping at a local mall nearby when he heard the gunfire. He quickly drew his concealed firearm and rushed to the Walmart.
“That’s what you do,” he told Task & Purpose. “You pull your gun, you find cover, and you figure out what to do next.”
Making his way out of the mall, he saw about a dozen children who were scared and calling out for their parents. He said he started grabbing kids, trying to get them to safety.
Oakley, who has a goddaughter, said on Sunday that he was trying to “protect them like they were mine.”
“I understand what I did was heroic, but I did that because that’s what I was trained to do. That is what the military has taught me to do,” he said, adding, “The spotlight should not be on me right now.”
Take a look at his remarks in the video clips below:
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 5, 2019