A Walmart employee and a customer kept their cool and managed to save the lives of over 140 people by directing them to safety during the shooting attack in El Paso on Saturday
CNN has received word that a brave Walmart employee, and an equally brave customer who happened to be shopping there at the time, collectively ended up saving the lives of over 140 people as the shooting incident went down in El Paso.
According to Walmart employee Gilbert Serna's testimonial, as soon as the gunshots were heard, Serna yelled for everyone to follow him. Serna, who has been employed at the store for 19 years now said that he quickly led at least 100 people out through the back of the Walmart to safety before running out to the front parking lot to help others. "We were out in the open," Serna said. "I opened the shipping containers and told everyone to get in.
Walmart employee Gilbert Serna and customer Adria Gonzalez helped lead people to safety when gunshots rang out at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas https://t.co/wTAaJ7Xb8A— CNN International (@cnni) August 6, 2019
"I was scared, I'm not going to lie, but I wasn't thinking about my own safety. I was thinking about everybody else's safety," Serna told CNN on Monday. He recalled that he was casually standing near the back of the store on Saturday when he heard a "code-brown" announcement on his two-way radio. The gunshots that followed the announcement led him to believe that there indeed was an active shooter in the premises or vicinity. He immediately didn't waste time thinking or let fear paralyze him. He led the large group of customers out the back door and into Sam's Club next door where he told the anxious crowd to wait for the police.
These people are American heroes. The best of El Paso. Walmart should hire both to share their story and train staff on how to keep your cool and help others. They saved lives. Don't waste this leadership ability on a minimum wage position. Amazing demo of "love thy neighbor".— Michael Bonomo (@MichaelBonomo25) August 6, 2019
Angel hero and Employee of Walmart Cielo Vista Gilbert Serna of Mexican descent publicly recognized for his heroic acts during the shootout in the store by escorting around 100 people between customers and employees to the back and guarding them in trailers— MPaty♥️ (@malumaa_9) August 5, 2019
Meanwhile, while all this was going on, the ones who couldn't make it out with Serna found themselves with another unlikely savior. Adria Gonzalez was inside the store as a customer, and when all hell broke loose, she bravely started to conduct her own rescue efforts. Gonzalez spoke to CNN saying that she immediately pulled her mother by her blouse and took her to a storage area inside Walmart when they started hearing gunshots and watching people drop to the floor bleeding. Gonzalez and her mother were shopping for their groceries and for a few school supplies they were planning to donate this week. They were walking by the meat counter when the shooting began, she recollected.
"You see this happening in the movies, but when you live it yourself, when you see a person killing, the blood everywhere," Gonzalez said. "You are in shock." As she began to scream "Let's go, let's go. Vamos, Vamos,", around 40 people followed her and her mother to the storage area near the meat counter, where they waited in silence until they could no longer hear the gunshots. That's indeed a stroke of luck. People who are caught in such situations often look for a leader or a brave figure to help them out of it. It was a lucky thing that the people decided to follow Serna and Gonzalez to safety.
~What an Incredible and heroic effort by these two wonderful American citizens! ....This sends a powerful message against homegrown terrorism that people stand together as strangers to defeat evil. Mental health is one thing but pure evil is another and these people helped save— Robert N. Washburn (@RobertNWashburn) August 6, 2019
Gonzalez recalled that the horrific memory of the incident still burns in her mind through flashes of images. She exasperatingly described the terror she saw on the faces of the people she helped into the storage room. Most of them were bloody, terrified and completely out of their senses. She also recalled the terrible sight of the 21-year-old shooter who was standing by the main entrance and spraying bullets from his massive assault rifle
It's remarkable to acknowledge that such things are a normal sight in war-torn areas and zones. But to experience all this in your own neighborhood or community, where you grew up and thought was safe and secure is another thing entirely. Let's hope that Serna, Gonzalez or anyone else never has to go through such an ordeal again.