Two Army recruiters responded to an active shooter at a California mall Tuesday afternoon.
Staff Sgt. Isaiah Locklear and Staff Sgt. Michael Marl heard the gunfire while talking with a future soldier in their offices at Tanforan Mall in San Bruno, California, at around 4 p.m.
“That’s when we heard two or three shots,” Marl told Army Times. “We kind of looked at each other and were like ‘is this gunfire?’ ”
Four or five more shots rang out.
The two recruiters sent the future soldier they were speaking with to the back of the offices where she could take shelter and then ran out to try and assist with the scene.
They found the first gunshot victim immediately on the second story of the mall. Locklear began tending to him while Marl searched and found a second victim.
“The victim was on the floor, waving his hands, saying that he’s been shot,” Locklear said, adding that a gunshot wound to the stomach was visible. “I took my shirt off and I started applying pressure and checked him to make sure he didn’t have any other wounds.”
Both victims were teenage boys, police said in a statement.
“I was pretty much just trying to stop the bleeding and talk him through it," Locklear, who has been in the Army seven years, added. "He was pleading with me that he didn’t want to die and I told him that he would be all right.”
The other victim had sustained a gunshot wound to the thigh.
“I just applied pressure, kept the kid calm and made sure the friend he had there with him didn’t go running around until the cops showed up,” said Marl, who has been in the Army for more than 12 years. “Thankfully, one of the first cops that came up actually had a tourniquet.
“So we applied the tourniquet and just made sure it was tight and stayed with the kid until the actual paramedics showed up,” Marl added.
The two recruiters said that they relied on the fundamentals of their Army training: look for bleeding, apply pressure and reassure the victim.
In total, four people were injured in the shooting, according to local media. The victims were ultimately transported to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
“The patient I was dealing with, I actually went with him to the hospital,” Locklear said, adding that doctors told him there that the victim was expected to recover.
The shooting appeared to be targeted and not random, local law enforcement said in the wake of the incident.
San Bruno police officers said in a statement that they’re looking for two shooters and believe that the attack was targeted against the two boys following a dispute on the second floor of the mall.
Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.