Mass shootings are always horrific, but they can also offer small pockets of hope in the stories of people who rise to the challenge of helping others during them. The recent shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas was an unspeakable tragedy. But during that massacre, one Walmart employee helped save the lives of over 100 people.
Gilbert Serna, a 37-year-old Walmart employee, is being called a hero after he ushered about 150 people to safety during the El Paso shooting.
Serna was working in Walmart when he heard in his two-way radio that there was a “code brown.” He quickly realized that meant a shooting was taking place in the store. Serna told KFox14: “If Iím going to run outside myself, Iím going to bring people with me. There is a guy with an AK-47 shooting up the place and thatís when it registered: This is a mass shooting. Iíve watched numerous videos and Iíve heard those gunshots and Iím, like, thatís exactly what I heard.”
Serna led over 100 people out through a fire exit and told them to get into four shipping containers. He secured the lids and hid them from the gunman.
Serna could have then gotten into one of the containers himself. But instead, he noticed that there were more people standing out in the open.
He told Buzzfeed News, “Thatís when I noticed people with gunshot wounds to their legs, arms, thighs, some graze wounds. Thatís when it really hit me ó like, oh man, this guyís out to kill people.” Serna led about 50 more people to the nearby Sam’s Club so they were safe from the gunman.
“I’ve been trained the customers come first, so I needed to get them to safety.”
Serna credits Walmart’s active shooter training for employees as part of what helped him act with such speed and efficiency. “They taught us how to avoid the shooter and defend ourselves,” he told BuzzFeed News. “They teach us ADD: Avoid, Deny, Defend ó deny him access, put a thing in front of a door, defend yourself as the need arises.”
Twenty-two people died as a result of the shooting on August 4. But many more were saved thanks to Serna’s heroism.