Gilbert Serna, 37, is an El Paso Walmart employee who is credited with saving over 150 people during the mass shooting on August 3 that killed 20 people and injured 26 more. He has been dubbed the “Walmart Hero”.
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Serna said that he “heard on my two-way radio, ‘Code brown, run quick’ in a panicked voice,” he went to check what a ‘Code Brown’ when he says, “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a shooting,’ and then heard the pop, pop, pop,”
Rather than running away or hiding, Serna quickly jumped into action. He led more than 100 customers from the store to the loading dock, corralled them into 4 large shipping containers and closed the doors, ensuring their safety.
“They were scared. I was scared. We were all scared,” he told Buzzfeed.
Serna then turned his attention to the parking lot where he saw several people standing out in the open, unaware of the impending danger. At this point, he didn’t know it was a mass shooting. That was until he heard a man in the parking lot yelling about “a tall white man in there with an AK-47 shooting up the place.”
“That’s when it registered with me that this was a mass shooting,” Serna told Buzzfeed News. “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.”
He was able to get another 50-60 people out of harm’s way by moving them from the Walmart parking lot to a nearby Sam’s Club.
“Once I got to Sam’s I noticed customers with gunshot wounds to their legs and arms, a customer who didn’t know he has been shot in his back,” Serna said on the “Today” show. “I saw a baby full of blood. It was horrible.”
Gilbert currently lives in El Paso, TX with his wife Dessarae Serna and their two children. Serna has been an employee at Walmart for almost half his life.
“It’ll happen again in our country because it’s not going to stop until we do something about it,” Serna told Buzzfeed, “Donald Trump has inspired a lot of racism.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Invited Gilbert Serna to Walmart HQ After the Shooting
According to a photo posted to McMillon’s Facebook page, Serna recently met the Walmart CEO at the company’s headquarters to discuss how the organization could learn from the incident and increase safety measures to make customers safer.
Gilbert shared the photo to his Facebook page, “I have always wanted to meet the CEO,” he wrote “not under these circumstances but thank you for your support of our associates and the community. We will rise again”
McMillon also posted a heartfelt message on Facebook and Instagram to thank the employees who helped save lives during the shooting. While he didn’t call out Serna specifically, he thanked him in his Instagram post. “We heard story after story of courageous associates putting others ahead of themselves,” McMillon wrote, “When the worst happens, we counter with our best selves.”
Walmart is one of the largest sellers of guns and ammunitions in the world. Their employees recently staged a walkout to protest the store still selling firearms after the Walmart and Dayton, Ohio shootings.
2. Bernie Sanders Praised Gilbert Serna For His Heroism
Bernie Sanders gave Gilbert a shout out on his campaign Facebook page, praising him for his “incredible courage”. He shared the Buzzfeed News article and used the opportunity to talk about gun control and gun violence in America, ” No one in our country should be put in this position ever again.” he wrote, “We are going to fight the NRA and end our gun violence crisis.”
Bernie Sanders voted against a bill in 1993 that established national background checks for firearms and voted for a bill in 2003 & 2005 that that protects gun companies from lawsuits if their products are used in crimes. He switched his stance during his campaign in 2016 and has been a vocal supporter of stronger gun control ever since.
3. He Was Invited on the Today Show
Gilbert Serna was invited on the ‘Today Show’ for an interview to discuss his horrific experience. He shared gruesome details from the day. “I will never forget the faces of them as they’re running out of the fire exits,” Serna told the “Today” show. “Once I got to Sam’s I noticed customers with gunshot wounds to their legs and arms, a customer who didn’t know he has been shot in his back.”
The interview wasn’t all doom and gloom. He also talked about the feeling he got from helping so many people. “I will never forget the recognition that I’m getting from the customers reaching out to me and telling me you saved my aunt, you saved my uncle, you saved my mom, my dad, my in-laws, you saved somebody in their families, you’re a hero. I will never forget that.”
4. He’s Giving Credit to Everybody Else and Raising Awareness for Victims
During his Today Show interview, Serna was wearing an “El Paso Chihuahuas” T-shirt to promote a foundation started by the local minor league baseball team. He also posted on Facebook “My store manager will be at the Chihuahuas game tonight on the field before the game to honor 22 seconds for those that lost their lives.”
He then selflessly gave all of the credit to his store manager saying “My store manager is my hero. He has been there for all of us and saved many more people that day.”
The El Paso Chihuahuas started a foundation for victims of the Walmart shooting tragedy.
According to the Chihuahuas Twitter feed, the foundation will donate “$150,000 to the two victims’ relief funds to support those affected by Saturday’s tragedy”
He also posted a message thanking all of the law enforcement officials that helped keep people safe that day.
“Thank u all law enforcement.” He said while including the insignia from all the law enforcement agencies mentioned. Gilbert has been humble, thankful, and forthcoming throughout the aftermath of the shooting.
5. He Has a Big Family
According to a photo posted on his Facebook page, Gilbert Serna has a large family who all live in El Paso, TX. His Facebook friends include several brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and extended family living in the area.