Survivors share chilling accounts of terror at Gilroy Garlic Festival

Camouflaged in fatigues, Santino William Legan cut through a fence at the rear of the Gilroy Garlic Festival to bypass metal detectors, crept inside, raised his AK-47-style rifle and unleashed 60 seconds of hell.

Harrowing accounts from both survivors and police revealed Monday how the 19-year-old gunman on Sunday, leaving three dead, a dozen injured and thousands traumatized before cops gunned him down.

“We were eating and we heard a pop, pop noise, and then we heard it again: pop, pop, pop,” Miquita Price, 42, of the moment Legan opened fire just after 5:40 p.m. local time. “And then my husband said, ‘It’s shooting,’ and he pushed me down.”

On the festival grounds, the smell of gunsmoke mixed with the aroma of the garlic that draws thousands of gourmands to the event yearly, as Legan indiscriminately cut down men, women and children.

“He definitely shot off more than 30 rounds,” survivor Julissa Contreras, a former police cadet, . “It was just like nonstop — just like two, three, four shots a second.”

Both Price and Contreras said that Legan was clad in combat attire, including fatigues.

“He had, like, straps and clips, and he was completely prepared for what he was doing,” said Contreras. “Absolutely.”

Price, her husband, a woman bleeding from a neck wound and that woman’s daughter made a desperate crawl for cover under an Enterprise truck.

“We are all hiding under this truck and I told my husband, ‘We’re safe,’ ” recalled Price. “And he said, ‘No, we’re not safe. The sheriff can’t save us.’ ”

But amid the chaos, three police officers did just that, charging toward Legan with their service weapons drawn.

“Despite the fact that they were outgunned with their handguns against a rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound that suspect,” said Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee.

From start to finish, Legan’s spasm of terror lasted only about a minute — but it was all the time Legan needed to kill three people, including a and a .

“Any time a life is lost, it’s a tragedy,” said Smithee in a press briefing, his voice quivering with emotion. “When it’s young people, it’s even worse.”

Still, the top cop said, the toll could have been exponentially higher were it not for the quick actions of the three officers.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the officers for being able to engage this guy as quickly as they did,” said Smithee. “We had thousands of people there in a very small area. It could have gone so much worse so fast.”

He added, “There absolutely would have been more bloodshed.”

Gilroy’s mayor, Roland Velasco, echoed the sentiment, saying that the cops “undoubtedly saved many lives by putting their lives in danger.

“It takes remarkable bravery to run to a shooting when the natural reaction for all of us is to run away,” added the mayor.

Velasco said that as authorities search for answers — and investigate witnesses’ unconfirmed accounts of a possible accomplice spotted at the scene — the next step for his town is to process the horror.

“One never imagines that such a thing can happen here in our beautiful community,” said Velasco, praising its “strong, resilient” residents. “The Gilroy community will mourn, but we will get through it.”

With wire services