'I just wanted to get them to medical help,' Man rescues multiple victims shot during Gilroy Garlic Festival

ByLuz Pena via KGO logo
Sunday, August 4, 2019
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John Perales and his wife Leighan Perales got a call from their daughter who was volunteering at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The 16-year-old said to them "there's been a shooting."

GILROY, Calif. -- Around 5:30 pm on Sunday, John Perales and his wife Leighan Perales got a call from their daughter who was volunteering at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Their frightened 16-year-old daughter said to them "there's been a shooting."

John said he grabbed the first car keys he could find and drove to the Garlic Festival with his oldest son.

RELATED: Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting survivors share harrowing tale after being released from hospital

As the Perales approached the area of the festival his daughter called to confirm she was safe and out of the area.

John made a U-turn to go back home and was flagged down by three victims.

"Right there by that sign. I rolled my window and they said 'we've been shot can you please take us to the hospital' They jump in the car and in my mind so many things were happening and I also thought what if the gunman is nearby here and I kept thinking get them to safety."

A thought that pushed John to keep driving.

Five days after the shooting, bloodstains in his car remind him of that horrific moment of victims crying out for help.

RELATED: Everything we know about 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, 25-year-old Trevor Irby killed at garlic festival

John drove Gabrielle Gaus and Brynn Ota-Mathews along with their male friend to St. Louise Regional Hospital.

During a press conference, Gaus and Ota-Mathews recall the moment they began to run for their lives while still processing they had been shot.

"I knew yeah I remember thinking I'm hit. But we never looked back on time," said Gabrielle Gaus.

Gaus was shot in the shoulder and Ota Mathews in the back.

"I thought maybe I was getting a cramp in my side from running. It took a really long time for me to realize that there was blood on my hand and realized that was the reality. I just kept running," said Ota-Mathews.

John described the drive as "surreal," and added "I imagine it took us a good 10 minutes to get there but God it felt like an eternity. I kept running into slow people, I kept getting the red lights and I didn't want to cause an accident or create another situation I was being very cautious but I just wanted to get them to medical help."

RELATED: Las Vegas shooting survivor who lives 4 blocks from Garlic Festival offering help to Gilroy survivors

Perales hopes to reunite with Gaus and Ota Mathews soon, "I'd love to sit down and break bread with them and have my kids meet them and my wife. Just talk to them, laugh and do everything opposite of what that day entails and reflects in our minds."

When we asked him if he considered himself a hero, he said, "No, far from it. I think those folks who are going home tonight to an empty house, empty beds, empty dreams they are the true heroes that are going to have to continue to live life without their loved ones."

Get the latest on the deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting here.