For Walmart store manager Robert Evans, the most crucial concern during the recent El Paso shooting was to keep as many people alive as possible.
The longtime retail employee and El Pasoan recalled the turn of events in an interview with CNN on Friday, remembering when he was standing by one of the store’s two entrances and checking emails on his phone when he heard the first gunshot.
Evans said he saw the suspect, who has now been identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, shooting at a group of people who were fundraising for a girls’ soccer team.
“From what I saw he seemed like he was, he knew what he was shooting. He was very defined, looked very focused,” Evans said, adding that he saw one person killed from the fundraising group and another fall in the parking lot. “It wasn’t just a spray of gunfire. These were direct shots.”
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Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP
The store had practiced active shooter training in the past, one through virtual reality and another computer-based, Evans shared.
After scanning the scene, the Walmart employee of 21 years yelled that there was an active shooter and called a Code Brown over the store radio. “I just wanted to save as many people [as I could] and get people notified that there was danger,” he said.
Evans escorted people to the back of the store, informing them how to escape out the back door and into a nearby mall for safety. In an effort to not block the exits, he tried to have people use different escape routes.
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MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
Evans said he first saw a man lying on the ground, shot in the back, outside of the auto center who eventually was brought to an ambulance. And after hearing an elderly couple had been shot around the front of the building, he rushed over to find the woman “shot in the face and unresponsive” and the man “moaning and bleeding from his back.”
“It appeared that he was trying to drive away from harm’s way,” he explained.
No workers were killed, though two employees were injured.
“They saw some pretty horrific things, that are going to be embedded into their mind and their life and impact their life in some way,” said Evans, who plans to return to Walmart.
Twenty-two people were killed and 24 were injured as a result of last Saturday’s mass shooting at the El Paso Walmart.
Earlier this week, Police Chief Greg Allen said the shooting “has a nexus at this point in time to a hate crime” and described the store after the shooting as ”a horrific one unfortunately because of the nature of the situation.”
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