SAN JOSE, CA — Gabriella Gaus feels “sickened” every time she leaves the house now. And this is after being treated and released at St. Louise Regional Hospital Sunday night and making a miraculous recovery with a bullet wound in her left shoulder and nerve damage in her hand following the horrific Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. A 19-year-old gunman identified as Santino William Legan is accused of killing three young people before police shot and killed him.
“Our hearts go out to those not able to share their stories. We’re here for you,” said Gaus, who was joined at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose Thursday by her friend Brynn Ota-Mathews, of Santa Cruz, also injured the shooting.
Gaus, of Scotts Valley, was speaking to others injured in the shooting: 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, both of San Jose, and Trevor Irby, a 25-year-old Keuka College student from Santa Cruz.
Like Gaus, Ota-Mathews said she is thankful to have survived the shooting. She was shot in the back and still has a bullet lodged in her liver but was due to released from Valley Medical Thursday. The two hospitals are run by Santa Clara County.
The two women shared their physical pain as well as their emotional trauma, playing the tragic event over and over again in their heads.
“I hope I feel a general trust toward humanity,” the 26-year-old Gaus said.
They spoke of their emotional trauma as well as their physical pain that ranges from Gaus’ “bee sting” feeling to Ota-Mathews thinking she developed a cramp running away from the bounce house where the duo saw the gunman.
“I saw him with the gun, and I stared. The fact that he had a real gun,” Gaus said, while imitating the stare of the surreal moment. “He looked like a trained military professional.”
Gaus used the moment as a reminder for loved ones to check on each other.
“Seeing the pictures now, he doesn’t at all look like who I thought I saw. I didn’t think he was a child that no one checked in on while he was building this idea in his head,” she said.
Making their way up into the inflatable slide on the grounds, both women said they thought it was a joke until logic kicked in, and they both kicked into high gear as they ran away to a parking lot where they were shot.
“We never looked back,” Gaus said. A man named John who took them in to safety behind the Porta-Potties and to his truck where he had his daughter, who was a volunteer that day.
“I didn’t feel safe until I was in the car,” Gaus said. “It felt like we’d be running forever.”
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She felt a little insecure about not having her purse and keys as so many in the flurry of running for their lives that fateful night.
“We just booked it. It was terrifying place to be,” said 23-year-old Ota-Mathews, who recalled reaching down and seeing blood on her hands.
The woman thanked the hospital staff and the police for an incredible quick takedown of the shooter, according to Gaus.
Valley Medical Director Jeffrey Chien seemed almost as emotional when he shared how wonderful it was to see Ota-Mathews on her feet.
“It took an entire community. I’m glad you get to go home today,” he said, also citing a massive outpouring of support from the community to help the victims. One person even brought the hospital staff doughnuts.
“It’s heartwarming to say the least,” he said.
And with the aftermath comes other realities. They don’t have health insurance. But they do have GoFundMe pages at Brynn’s and Gabriella’s.