At first, Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr. was completely unaware of the chaos unfolding just around the corner. Then he pulled his gun.
A 22-year-old Army automated logistics specialist assigned to the 504th Composite Supply Company, 142nd Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas, Oakley had been shopping at a sporting goods store inside the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso when a young child burst into the store shouting about an active shooter at the nearby Walmart.
"The guy at the register and I sort of looked at each other," Oakley told Task & Purpose in a phone interview on Saturday. "He's a little kid ... are you going to believe him?"
The threat was very real. At least 20 people were killed and dozens more wounded when a gunman opened fire at the Walmart, sending terrified bystanders fleeing through the neighboring mall.
When Oakley exited the store minutes later and headed to the neighboring Footlocker, he finally heard the sound of gunfire echoing across the mall. He immediately pulled the Glock 9mm he occaisionally carries under Texas's concealed carry laws. While he had just returned from an incident-free deployment to Kuwait, this was not his first firefight.
"That's what you do," he told Task & Purpose. "You pull your gun, you find cover, and you figure out what to do next."