By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After watching the store he managed get looted and burned, he was asked to put on his uniform and help calm the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“Whatever they could get their hands on is what was being taken. We saw some people just back trucks up and put whatever they could in the back,” said David Sanchez, manager of the O’Reily Auto Parts.

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Driving up Lake Street to find burned out lots that used to be businesses, isn’t an unusual sight right now.

But the looting that came before the fire at the O’Reilly Auto Parts on Lake Street and Colombus was personal for store manager David Sanchez.

“As soon as I closed the store down from one side of the building on the other side they were already starting to break the glass and going in, so we made it out just in time,” Sanchez said.

After watching his location burn, Sanchez rushed over to the north Minneapolis store which was also burning.

He tried to put it out but, ultimately, couldn’t.

“Really there is nothing we could’ve done so I had to get away from my store because it was just hard to see all of that,” Sanchez said.

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He couldn’t save the shops he worked at.

But he would get the chance to help his community. A day after the fires? A call to suit up.

“I grabbed my uniform, grabbed my bags and then drove down here,” Sanchez said. “If I really wanna help it’s going out here putting on the uniform and coming right back to wherever they need me.”

Private First Class David Sanchez has been with the National Guard for less than two years.

“Just for a quick second I did think like ‘am I really able to do this?'” Sanchez said.

But over the past week or so, this 23-year-old has learned he does have what it takes to be a soldier.

“I am able to just put emotions aside no matter how big they were and just when I get called to do my duty, go out and do it,” Sanchez said.”

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Sanchez normally serves the guard as a mechanic, but he did things like patrolling St. Paul and the blocked off highways while activated over the last few days.

Erin Hassanzadeh