Soldier who saved several children in El Paso breaks down in tears saying the shooting was 'the worst thing I've ever been through'

ABC News/Youtube ScreenshotUS Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr. talks to reporters through tears on Sunday after the shooting in El Paso, Texas.
  • A US Army soldier who heroically saved several children during the shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday broke down in tears during an interview on Sunday.
  • Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr., a soldier stationed at Fort Bliss who recently returned from Kuwait, said the shooting was the “worst thing” he’d ever been through.
  • The reporters who were interviewing him called him an inspiration, saying that his actions offered hope in a tragic moment.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

US Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr. emerged from a tragic shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday a hero, having run toward the gunfire and saved the lives of several children.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, he broke down in tears, calling the massacre that left at least 22 people dead and more than two dozen wounded “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 Armoured 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 continued, 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.”

In a separate interview with Task & Purpose, Oakley, who comes from an Army family, described his recent deployment to Kuwait as “fine” but expressed disappointment that he didn’t see combat.

“I wanted to go to Iraq so bad,” he said. “I felt like it’s in my blood.”

Read more:
Meet the 22-year-old soldier who saved children at the El Paso shooting and is being called a hero

Instead of experiencing combat overseas, he found it while out at a shopping mall.

“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.”

He added: “I don’t want to talk about what went on there, because I just want to forget about it all.”

The off-duty soldier was shopping at a local mall on Saturday when a gunman opened fire at the Walmart nearby. He said that when he heard the gunfire, he drew a concealed firearm and shifted into combat mode.

“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, together with another man, 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.”

As he struggled to get through the interview, reporters called him an inspiration, stressing that his actions offered hope in a tragic moment.

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