Father Recounts Charging Gunman at Gilroy Garlic Festival

The man from Merced County said he rushed the shooter when he saw the gun jam and a clip of ammunition fall

Staring down gunfire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, one father said he rushed the gunman, making it so far as to hear the gunman tell him, "No."

Chris, a Merced County man who did not want to provide his last name, said he started to charge the 19-year-old shooter when he saw the gun jam and an ammunition clip drop.

"At that opportunity, I realized I better do something," Chris said. "So I jumped up and ran towards him, but I didn't make it all the way. He picked up his clip at that moment, and he looked at me and said, 'No.' Shook his head and 'No' out of his mouth came. I wasn't the hero because people died after that. I stopped. I backed up. I didn't think I was going to make it all the way. And I dove back into my tent."

Three people were killed and a dozen others were hurt during the shooting on the final day of the popular food festival. The dead included 6-year-old Stephen Romero and 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, both from San Jose, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby, a college graduate from upstate New York. Authorities are still trying to determine the shooter's motive.

Chris and his family were at the annual festival selling shaved ice. As the gunman opened fire an estimated 20 to 30 feet away from his booth, Chris and his family hit the deck and hid underneath a table.

"I didn't know if it was real or not," Chris recalled. "I just stood there in disbelief. And then my wife and my daughter dove down under the table and someone yelled, 'There's a shooter! Get down!'"

Chris kept an eye on the gunman and eventually ran toward him when he heard the shots come to a halt.

Despite being in the gunman's path, Chris said the gunman didn't shoot in his direction. Instead, the shooter headed to an area where there was an inflatable slide and children.

During the rampage, Chris said the gunman was calm and collected.

"He was at peace," Chris said. "He was smiling, calm. He didn't move fast. He shot. When he fixed his clip, he slowly started walking the other way. He didn't try to hurry."

Officers responded within a minute of the first shots being fired and fatally shot the suspect.

The Associated Press and NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro contributed to this report.

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