By Thomas Brading, Army News ServiceJuly 18, 2019
Fort Meade, Md. -- Two Army recruiters in California recently responded to a mall shootout, helping save injured teens in the process.
It started as a normal day in the recruiting office. Staff Sgt. Isaiah Locklear and Staff Sgt. Michael Marl were discussing the Army's benefits with a future Soldier at the Tanforan Mall in San Bruno, California, when multiple gunshots rang out.
The recruiters looked at each other, initially puzzled by the noise. Although unspoken, their expressions were, "Was that gunfire?" Marl recalled. Then they heard -- pah, pah, pah, pah -- it was definitely gunfire, confirming their suspicions.
Marl saw the "look on Sergeant Locklear's face," change from "what was that?" to "we have to do something," he said, and the pair sprang into action.
Two young boys -- a 16- and 12-year-old --- were both injured in the shootout, which erupted after a dispute between two groups of boys on the second floor of the mall. Both victims were part of the groups involved; one was shot in the abdomen, the other in the leg.
Although a targeted shooting, at the time the recruiters didn't know if it was an active shooter, firing at random, or not.
Before leaving their offices, they escorted the future Soldier, a trained EMT, into a back room for safety. She sheltered in place, but later came out to help. Then, while mall-goers ran away from the danger, the Soldiers selflessly ran toward the sound of gunfire, hoping to assist.
First, they noticed a young boy, who was laying on the floor --- in a pool of his own blood --- waving his hand and saying, "I've been shot" to the Soldiers. He was near their office on the mall's second floor. As Locklear began giving him aid, Marl continued looking for any other victims.
Using the shirt off his back, Locklear applied pressure to the injured teen's bleeding stomach. Afterward, he carefully rolled him over to identify other possible injuries. He noticed the bullet went through the boy's torso and out of his back. He continued applying pressure until paramedics arrived.
"I don't want to die," the boy cried to Locklear, and was reassured that he would be alright. Locklear stayed by the boy's side, and eventually helped put him onto a medical gurney.
As Locklear was helping the teenager, Marl, a combat veteran of three deployments, noticed a second victim in the food court, who sustained a gunshot wound to the thigh. Marl quickly removed his uniform top and applied a makeshift tourniquet on the boy's leg to stop the bleeding. Like Locklear, Marl stayed with the victim until paramedics arrived.
Both Soldiers credit their Army training with enabling them to successfully perform first aid to the injured boys. "These are the kind of skills you learn at basic training," Marl said.
They said the first aid felt like second nature for them: like in training, they located the source of the bleeding, applied pressure to the wound, and kept the victims calm.
Once paramedics arrived, the boys were transported to Zuckerberg General Hospital in San Francisco. "I went to visit the boy in the hospital," Locklear recalled, adding, "He is doing much better and seems like he's going to be alright."
The men say "being a Soldier" means being one "24/7."
"As a Soldier, we're in public service, not just overseas, but also in our community," Marl added.
"This is the kind of thing we train for," said Locklear, regarding his battlefield skills. "We train, and retrain, and never know when we'll need to apply those skills."
Both victims are expected to make a full recovery. San Bruno Police have arrested two teenagers in connection to the shooting, while one suspect remains at large.