Heroes Prevail in the Aftermath of 2 Deadly Shootings
When shots rang out, they jumped into action.
After a weekend where two mass shootings occurred within 13 hours of each other, the country is (yet again) left to grieve and pick up the pieces. The first shooting took place inside a Walmart Supercenter at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, TX where over 20 people were killed and dozens of others injured. The second occurred in Dayton, OH early Sunday morning with 9 lives lost and 16 injured.
And while we know it's hard to find positivity in these moments of tragedy, it's important to shine a light on the people who used their gifts to help others. That's why Sparkt would like to recognize the brave souls that acted in the face of danger. The ones who rushed to the aid of the victims -- the helpers, the heroes. These are their stories.
Glendon Oakley Jr.
A 22-year-old Army automated logistics specialist was shopping at a sporting goods store in El Paso, TX when a young child started yelling about an active shooter at the nearby Walmart. While he wasn't sure whether to believe the child at first, Oakley heard the gunfire when he exited the store. Having served two active tours in Kuwait, this wasn't the first time he had faced active gunfire. Oakley quickly pulled out his own legally concealed gun and took cover.
"That's what you do," he said in an interview with Task & Purpose . "You pull your gun, you find cover, and you figure out what to do next."
Oakley (pictured on the left) with an army buddy. Glendon Oakley Facebook
When a group of shoppers decided to make a run for the mall exits, Oakley followed and guarded them from
the rear. As they made their way through the mall, they came across a group of children gathered in an open play area who were crying for their parents. While the others he was with didn't stop, Oakley didn't hesitate to grab as many children as he could and carry them to safety.
"I was just focused on the kids, I wasn't really worried about myself. So I just put my head down and just ran as fast as I could," he told KFOX-TV .
With all the attention he's been getting from the media for his acts of bravery, Oakley has been careful to turn the spotlight away from himself.
"I understand it was heroic, and I'm looked at as a hero for it, but that wasn't the reason for me."
"I'm just focused on the kids I could not get and the families that were lost, he said, tearfully. "It hurts me, like, they were part of me. I don't even know the people that died or the kids that I took with me...I want to reach out to the families that were lost and the families that lost their children because the focus should not be on me."
Miller was out on a typical Saturday night, celebrating her friend's 25th birthday when she heard the first shots outside of Ned Pepper's Bar in Dayton, OH. On her way out of the bar, she noticed several bodies lying on the sidewalk. Some appeared to be unresponsive and others were still breathing. Before she ran to safety, Miller stopped to perform CPR on the wounded victims.
She fought back tears as she spoke with
NBC's Today Show
about the incident.
"I'm grateful to be alive and to talk to my family and friends and tell them I'm ok, but my heart breaks for their families."
Dayton police officers
While it's no surprise that police officers responded to the shooting that took place early Sunday morning in the Oregon District in downtown Dayton, OH, the fact that they were able to apprehend the gunman in less than 30 seconds is nothing short of heroic.
The city's mayor, Nan Whaley, acknowledged the officers' bravery when she addressed the community after the shooting.
"I'm just still completely amazed at the heroic nature of our police department," she said.
The officers were identified as 22-year-veteran Sgt. William Chad Knight and officers Brian Rolfes, Jeremy Campbell, Vincent Carter, Ryan Nabel, and David Denlinger.
Officials say the number of casualties would have been much greater, and many more wounded, if not for their quick response.
We know it's easy to feel helpless and hopeless after events like this take place, but there are many ways that YOU can be a hero and help in the aftermath of the two shootings.
Consider donating to the following funds that have been set up by local organizations to help the families of victims involved in the shooting:
You can also consider donating to the American Red Cross which has already put a staff and volunteers in place in El Paso.
If you're local to El Paso, you can donate blood to help replenish supplies. Visit bloodhero.com or call 877-258-4825 to make an appointment.
The Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund has been set up to help those that were impacted by the shooting.
Police in Dayton are referring people to the local blood bank for opportunities to donate.
To make a difference on a national level, you can join groups such as Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action who have already organized and staged protests at the nation's capital to demand stronger gun reform laws. Find out how you can get involved, here.
You can also reach out to your local elected officials in Congress to voice your opinion on gun control. (Find out how to contact your local officials, here)