GILROY (KPIX 5)— The aunt of 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, one of the three victims killed in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, said her family was forced to leave her behind as they ran for their lives during the chaotic scene.
Salazar never made it to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Her family said she was hit by gunfire and died instantly.
“No one thought this would ever happen,” said Katiuska Pimental, Salazar’s aunt.
Pimental believes her niece was one of the gunman’s first victims. One minute, Salazar and her family were enjoying a quiet moment together when a barrage of gunfire suddenly rang out.
“They were, like, eating ice cream, sitting down, resting and then, like, all of this happened,” Pimental said.
The entire family was suddenly scrambling for their lives. As they were running, Salazar fell.
“They thought she fell but she was actually shot,” Pimental said.
Pimental said the Salazar’s mother tried to reach her, but could not get her up. Her stepfather also tried to pick her up, but he was shot in the arm. Police forced them all to evacuate and leave Salazar behind. Her family was convinced that she would make it.
“We thought she was alive. We thought she was in surgery. We thought that she would be taken care of at the hospital. Like we never thought she would be deceased,” Pimental said.
Her family found out the truth about seven hours after the shooting. Pimental said her niece would’ve turned 14 years old on Saturday.
She hopes her niece’s death sparks change.
“Whether or not we want to allow guns that are that powerful to just be given open to the public, I think those are real conversations that we should have as a community to make sure there’s no more victims and no more children that have to die,” Pimental said.