Stephen Ellison

Tale of Survival, Bravery From Garlic Festival Shooting Victims

In the face of tragedy, stories of incredible survival and bravery are emerging from the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting Sunday.

One man, despite being grazed by bullets seven times, managed to carry a friend to safety. Nick McFarland and Justin Bates were at the Garlic Festival for a day of fun with family and friends. They ended up wounded and running for their lives. But alive.

The whir of bullets buzzing his head is a sound McFarland will not soon forget. He said he was sitting with family at a shave ice booth when he saw a gunman dressed in camouflage come out of the woods. Seconds later, that man opened fire, targeting with a bounce house full of kids.

One bullet ricocheted, piercing McFarland's calf. His girlfriend, Sarah Ordaz, and his friend Bates were stunned.

"He started firing to the left of us," said Bates, a Hollister resident. "I actually grabbed Sarah and pushed her to the ground then said we have to run."

Bates was grazed by bullets seven times. He showed wounds on his back, thigh and arm. Bates then ran to the top of the hill, bleeding and injured, but when he realized his friends were still back at the booth, he went back and found Ordaz in shock and unable to move.

So he carried her back up the hill to safety.

"He carried me," Ordaz said. "He's my hero."

The three friends say they thought they might die at the festival, but now that they've survived they are vowing to appreciate every moment of their lives.

And they aren't planning to go back to the festival.

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