By Shirin Rajaee

GILROY (CBS13) – The people of Gilroy never thought it would happen in their own backyard, to their loved ones, to their kids. But now this national epidemic of mass shootings has hit close to home – and the pain and grief runs deep.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Leslie Austin attending Monday night’s memorial service to show her support.

Hundreds from this community of about 50,000 stood shoulder to shoulder, holding one another and lighting candles, after the most heinous and evil act hit their home.

“It’s hard, my daughter was actually there. You can see her and her boyfriend in a lot of the videos that have aired,” said Stephanie Simbarn.

It was a paralyzing fear for so many parents whose children were at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday. Those parents are now asking: What if?

“It kind of hurts for me to think it could have been my child,” said Simbarn.

One teen says he came out to show support for a friend who was shot in the hip and is recovering at the hospital.

“I’m just hoping she pulls through and comes out stronger,” said Jonathan.

Those injured and the death of three innocent souls was what drew hundreds to come together, as one.

The victims include 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar of San Jose, and college graduate Trevor Irby – who was visiting from New York.

“It was just the beginning of their lives, but this is a national epidemic,” said a woman at the vigil who sang the national anthem.

The first-responders who acted swiftly in less than one minute to bring the gunman down were hailed as heroes.

“I have no doubt that the first responders were the bravest human beings that night,” said Austin.

The terror that unfolded in Gilroy Sunday night – which has drawn thousands of people for decades – has shattered hearts and changed lives, that is clear. But as many testified Monday, this won’t break them.

“As individuals we will heal, but collectively we will rise,” said one survivor.

Shirin Rajaee

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