Soldier Who Brought Kids to Safety During El Paso Shooting Arrested for Alleged Desertion

Pfc. Glendon Oakley, a native of Killeen, Texas and an automated logistical specialist assigned to 504th Composite Supply Company, 142nd Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade, helped children to safety during the active shooter tragedy in El Paso, Texas, August 3, 2019. (U.S. Army/Vin Stevens)
Pfc. Glendon Oakley, a native of Killeen, Texas and an automated logistical specialist assigned to 504th Composite Supply Company, 142nd Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade, helped children to safety during the active shooter tragedy in El Paso, Texas, August 3, 2019. (U.S. Army/Vin Stevens)

An Army private first class who made headlines this summer for assisting children during a Texas mass shooting was taken into custody this week after a warrant was issued by his base for alleged desertion.

Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr., an automated logistical specialist based at Fort Bliss, was arrested more than 500 miles from his installation on Thursday, Lt. Stephen Miller, a spokesman with Harker Heights Police Department, said.

Army officials confirmed that Oakley was absent without leave and was "apprehended pursuant to a military administrative warrant."

"Pfc. Oakley is in police custody pending return to Ft Bliss where the chain of command is prepared to receive the Soldier and address the issue according to applicable laws, regulation, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice," Army Master Sgt. Vin Stevens, a Fort Bliss Spokesman said.

The news of the arrest was first reported by local station KCEN.

Related: First Armored Soldier Honored for Protecting Children in El Paso Shooting

Col. Ronnie Anderson Jr., commander of the 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade, added that they are "genuinely concerned about the well-being of all Soldiers in our unit."

Out of respect for Oakley's privacy, Stevens said no further information would be released by the command.

Miller said members of his department had been on the lookout for Oakley after receiving information that the soldier was in the area. They had a description of the car and saw it parked, he said.

When police officers approached the vehicle, they found Oakley inside and arrested him, Miller said. The soldier was then transported to Bell County Jail where Army personnel planned to pick him up.

In August, Oakley was recognized by his unit, 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, for his actions during the Aug. 3 mass shooting in an El Paso shopping center.

Oakley was at the Cielo Vista Mall when a gunman opened fire at a nearby Walmart. The soldier said he began running to assist children nearby and bring them to safety.

"I just thought about keeping them as close as I could," he said in an Army news release. "... They were just scared, so I just did what I could do."

Oakley was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his actions.

Officials with the El Paso Police Department recently told KFOX14 that they'd been unable to verify Oakley's account. Amid the chaos, there were initially reports of multiple shooters, including one in the mall.

"It was later confirmed that there was only one shooter and there was no one in danger at the mall," the police department said in a statement. "We have no independent reports of anyone's actions at the mall."

Fort Bliss officials told the station that Oakley epitomizes the Army values of loyalty, duty, selfless service and personal courage.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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