U.S. Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr. said Saturday he didn't believe it at first when a little kid came running into the sports store where he was shopping and said there was an active shooter at Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas.
Then he walked into Foot Locker and heard gunshots nearby.
"I am in the military and I've got my license to carry, so all I think about is get my gun out and think fast," Oakley said during an interview with KTSM-TV after a gunman killed 20 people and wounded another 26 in the Aug. 3 shooting.
Most of the victims were believed to have been shot inside Walmart, El Paso police said, adding that the store was packed with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school shopping season, according to an Associated Press report.
Frightened children ran in all directions, Oakley recalled.
"I saw a whole lot of kids just running around without their parents, so I'm just thinking about the kids, so I pick up as many as possible and carry them with me and another guy does as well," Oakley said during the interview.
"I wasn't really worried about myself. I was worried about the kids."
Oakley, 22, is an automated logistical specialist with the 1st Armored Division's 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas, Lt. Col. Rosy Poulos, a 1st Armored Division spokeswoman, told Military.com.
A Killeen, Texas native, Oakley's awards include awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
Oakley told CNN that doesn't have children, but he just tried to do "what I would want somebody else to do" if he was a parent.
"There were so many kids that we couldn't pick them all up ... me and the other guy tried our best to get as many out as possible," Oakley said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.