Out of every tragic mass shooting in America come stories of bravery in the face of extreme danger.
The horrific mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, on August 3 shocked people around the world as 22 innocent citizens were gunned down while shopping. But the death toll could have been much higher if it weren’t for heroes like Gilbert Serna, an employee at the Walmart store who helped about 150 people escape the carnage.
WATCH: When Gilbert Serna realized gunfire was erupting, the Walmart employee began rushing dozens of people out of back doors. pic.twitter.com/XwCcVWxnST
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 8, 2019
Serna is a 37-year-old father of two and he has worked at the El Paso Walmart for nearly half his life. He was in the middle of his shift on August 3 when gunshots rang out in the store. Serna heard someone say ‘Code brown, run quick’ on his two-way work radio and he immediately knew there was an emergency in the store.
But instead of running, Serna led what he thought to be about 100 customers to safety through a fire exit. He then directed them into four shipping containers and he shut the doors, hiding the people inside from the shooter.
Serna then walked along the perimeter of the building to the parking lot where he saw a large group of people standing out in the wide open, including a girl’s soccer team that was doing a fundraiser. It was then that Serna realized that this was no ordinary emergency because someone yelled that a shooter was firing in the store.
He said of that moment,
“That’s when it registered with me that this was a mass shooting. It’s not a one-on-one confrontation, it’s not somebody fighting over a parking spot or ‘I bumped into you’ or something. This is going to be a mass shooting — a massacre.”
Serna led the second group of about 50 to 60 people to a nearby Sam’s Club store where they waited for the rampage to end.
Serna said that Walmart’s employee training helped him spring into action:
“They taught us how to avoid the shooter and defend ourselves. They teach us ADD: Avoid, Deny, Defend — deny him access, put a thing in front of a door, defend yourself as the need arises.”