An 11-year-old boy from El Paso responded to the recent shooting on Aug. 3 by starting the “El Paso Challenge,” with the help of his mother. The goal of the social media campaign is to encourage people to give back and spread kindness, in order to bring about healing.
Rose Gandarilla posted a photo of her son, Ruben, on Twitter, and a picture of his plan for the El Paso Challenge. The goal: honor the people killed in their city. The idea: challenge each person in El Paso to do 20 good deeds.
Ruben jotted down a few examples such as mowing someone’s lawn, visiting a nursing home, paying for someone’s lunch or dinner, taking flowers to the hospital, or simply telling someone how great they are.
“How to convince everyone to join the El Paso challenge: Hold up posters, pass out flyers, send it to Facebook,” Ruben’s note read, as reported by CBS News. “This will show the world people from El Paso are kind and care for each other.”
Ruben’s idea was successful: In about a day, more than 1,400 people were talking about the El Paso Challenge via Twitter. Almost 3,000 people shared his mom’s Facebook post.
Ruben Gandarilla’s challenge. Photo from Rose Gandarilla’s Facebook page.
Many people on social media, from Texas and other areas, started pledging 20 random acts of kindness with the El Paso Challenge hashtag.
Ruben didn’t just challenge strangers on social media—he also shared his idea in person. When he was in Taco Bell with his mother, he came up to a group of people and explained the challenge.
“This courageous young man came up to us at Taco Bell and challenged us to make El Paso a better place, the challenge is to do 20 good deeds in memory of the 20 who were killed in the Walmart shooting,” El Paso native Chris Castaneda wrote on Facebook, sharing a photo of his group with Ruben. “I challenge you to fulfill this challenge and share this on your page to challenge others.”
Some on social media who took up the challenge decided to pledge 22 acts of kindness – one for each victim of the shooting that happened in an El Paso Walmart.
Prosecutors are initiating a civil rights hate crime investigation and domestic terrorism charges. They will seek the death penalty for the suspect.
Read the CBS News story here.
Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley was shopping for a jersey Aug. 3 at a store in El Paso, Texas, when a child entered and said there was a shooter at the Walmart close by.
Oakley told CNN no one in the store, including him, paid attention because they didn’t understand what the child was talking about. Oakley said he then walked to another store.
Then the trouble started.
“I just heard two gunshots and a whole bunch of people started running around and screaming,” Oakley said.
As disorder reigned during the next five to seven minutes, the armed Oakley was going to go with others who ran out of the store toward the gunshots.
“But I see a whole bunch of kids running around without their parents. Only thing I think of is pick up as many kids I can as possible,” Oakley said.
He and a different man started gathering children together. There were about 13, Oakley said, but he could only hold three.
“I was just focused on the kids, I wasn’t really worried about myself. So just put my head down and just ran as fast as I could,” he said. “They were anxious, when they were in my arms, they were trying to jump out of my arms but trying to keep them as tight as possible. They are kids, so they don’t understand what is going on.”
When he saw the police, he said he let the kids go and took out his phone “in case they were going to shoot me and started recorded while I was running.”
Oakley said he wasn’t concerned with his safety, rather getting the children out of harm’s way.
“I was just thinking about if I had a child and I wasn’t around, how I would want another man to react if they saw my child running around,” Oakley said.
Oakley told CNN affiliate KFOX that he did what he was supposed to do, and he doesn’t want the limelight on him.
“I understand it was heroic, and I’m looked at as a hero for it, but that wasn’t the reason for me …,” he said as he broke down in tears Aug. 4. “I’m just focused on the kids I could not get and the families that were lost. 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.”
CNN tried to contact the soldier on Aug. 4.
Oakley said the media’s focus should be on the world and the shooting in Ohio.
“The spotlight should not be on me right now,” he said. “I need the media to go out to the families and make sure they’re OK … I understand what I did was heroic, but I did that because that’s what I was trained to do and that’s what the military has taught me to do.”
The El Paso shooting left 20 people dead and 26 wounded, according to CNN.
Read about Oakley here.
As Brendan Kelly danced to upbeat music at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, he heard a familiar sound: pop-pop-pop-pop. Kelly remembered hearing the same noise–the distinctive rattle of gunfire–at a country music concert in Las Vegas last year, and immediately took action.
“As soon as I identified where the target was, or where the threat was, I grabbed at least two people around me and yanked them as hard as I could to the nearest exit,” Kelly told KABC news, a CNN affiliate. Kelly and several other patrons escaped through a rear exit and fled to safety.
At that point, Kelly called his relatives to inform them he had lived through a second shooting. The Marine Corp veteran attributed his survival to divine providence. “Only thing I can attribute it to is God, his protective hand over me that night on October 1 (last year in Las Vegas) and last night,” he said.
Kelly’s phone call was interrupted by continued gunfire from the bar. As patrons streamed out of the building, Kelly rushed to administer first aid to the wounded. He removed his belt to slow the bleeding from a friend’s arm. “I wanted to help as best I could,” Kelly explained. “If we could be the first level of first responders before they got there, then you do all you can do instead of standing around not doing much.”
In his conversation with KABC reporters, Kelly struggled to come to grips with the Borderline shooting, which occurred just a block from his house. “It’s too close to home,” he said. Borderline had served as a “safe space” for Kelly and other survivors of the Las Vegas massacre–but that very place fell victim to the violence Kelly and his friends sought to escape.
Kelly’s conclusion? Only God could provide ultimate safety from danger.
On Monday morning, a 16-year-old student began shooting in North Thurston High School. Thanks to the quick and heroic action of Advanced Placement government and civics teacher Brady Olson, no one was hurt.
When he heard the gunfire, Olson ran at the student, tackling him to the ground. Two other administrators jumped in to help hold the student down and secure the weapon.
“No one, including myself, can prepare for a situation like this, so I’m very thankful that we’re all okay,” Olson said. “As always, students come first and today was no different.”
The shooting took place near the common areas where students were waiting around lunch tables.
“The dangerous thing is it was right before school starts,” district spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve said of the incident. “The kids would have all been in the commons.”
Praised for the heroic action, Olson was always a favorite among students.
“If anyone in the school were to do something like he did, I would think it would be him,” student Teia Patan said. “He’s one of those people who watch over kids.”
The Washington school’s staff had recently practiced active shooter drills in case of such an emergency.
“I’m incredibly proud to be a member of the bigger community of educators who teach and take care of our kids every day,” Olson said.
The shooter, a recent transfer according to fellow classmate Anthony Rybalkin, was taken into custody. Police also swept the school for a bomb.
On Saturday afternoon, the U.S. capitol went on lockdown after shots were fired outside the building.
The shots were an apparent suicide. Capitol police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider announced that the shooter was “neutralized” after a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The man’s condition has not yet been released. Nobody else was hurt in the shooting.
The lockdown is mainly for precautionary purposes.
The police are continuing to investigate both the shooting and a suspicious package left on the lower west terrace of the Capitol building. It is unclear whether the incidents are related.
“There are no indications at this point of terrorism,” a federal official announced in a written statement.