Garlic Festival volunteer stayed to help others in need


SAN JOSE (KRON) — As people got away from gunshots during the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Willie Maquinalez ran towards them.

“I felt calm but there was chaos,” Maquinalez said.

He’s been volunteering at the festival for the last 19 years.

With 19 minutes left in his shift on Sunday, everything changed.

“I could see everybody running out, so I started yelling at everyone to get on a bus,” he said.

The buses shuttled people away from danger.

Also, the stars aligned as two doctors looking to help victims ran into Maquinalez.

And since he knew the layout well, he got them to the triage area immediately.

Hospitals treating patients from the shooting have credited that quick medical care for saving lives.

“Like I said, I just try to help,” he said.

Maquinalez has no professional experience in emergency situations, but he has stepped up one other time before. 

He said he stopped a man from driving a car into a crowd of people on the Gilroy High School athletic field.

He said he just feels this calling to help those in need.

“I know people need help,” he said. “Not everyone can get away and I can provide that help.”

Maquinalez still cannot get his car because it is on lockdown as part of the crime scene.

Friends and family have been giving him a ride to his job at a digital forensics company where he works in IT.

While the experience of being so close to violence will stay with him forever, he’ll be back at the festival.

“I would like to see you all out at the next Garlic Festival,” he said.

As nothing will keep him away from a place he loves.

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