Volunteer clutches 11-month-old daughter while barricaded during Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting

ByDustin Dorsey KGO logo
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Volunteer clutches daughter while barricaded during Garlic Festival shooting
Gilroy Garlic Festival volunteer, Hannah Johnson, recalls the scary moments with her 11-month-old following the deadly shooting on the final day of the annual festival at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, Calif.

GILROY, Calif. -- Hannah Johnson has been attending the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival for years, but she said that she would have never imagined what she and others had to go through when the shooting started late Sunday afternoon.

Carrying her 11-month-old daughter, she quickly searched for safety.

"I just remember running and clutching her as tightly as I could," Johnson said. "I was thinking 'God help us get out of here. Help her to see her first birthday, which is in two more days'."

Johnson was volunteering in a booth, along with three other women, for the first time this year during the three-day annual festival that saw more than 100,000 guests come through their doors.

The Garlic Festival is something she looks forward to every year.

"It's very family-friendly," Johnson said. "You feel safe, then something like this happens."

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At first, Johnson thought the loud "pops" that she heard was fireworks going off.

It was not fireworks.

Santino William Legan, 19, opened fire on crowds injuring more than a dozen people.

Three of those people died from their injuries.

RELATED: What we know about the 3 killed in the Garlic Festival shooting

When she witnessed what was happening around her, she quickly knew she had to spring into action to save herself and her child.

"We saw this huge swarm of people running and screaming, 'there's someone shooting, run, run'. We just picked up my baby and ran to the back of our little trailer thing and closed the door."

PHOTOS: Aftermath of shooting at Gilroy Garlic Festival

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Police officers escort people from Christmas Hill Park following a deadly shooting during the Gilroy Garlic Festival, in Gilroy, Calif.

After several minutes, Johnson was escorted out of the trailer by police to another holding area.

She was not able to leave the property for more than three hours, holding onto her baby the entire time.

While she says the police and festival employees did a great job with the aftermath, she thinks there could have been more done in advance of the tragedy.

"One thing that kind of stood out to me, or shocked me, was that as we were going in and you're a vendor and you show your pass for that, they don't look through your bags," Johnson said. "Someone that is smart and wanting to do harm would think that is the perfect get through."

While the suspected gunman was said to have come onto the property through the Uvas Creek, she still believes the security could have been better given other mass shootings that have happened in the country.

When all is said and done, Johnson is thankful to be alive.

She adds that she still sees the horrific scenes in her head and can hear the "pops" of the gun going off.

RELATED: 'I feel like he made eye contact with me': Witness describes Gilroy shooting

But she still knows that things could have been much worse.

"My family was supposed to be there. My husband was going to bring my girls, I have four of them. If that would have happened, and he's alone with all four, there would've been a different end to this story. We wouldn't be all home safe like we are."

Get the latest stories, photos and videos on the deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting.