Community prayer service held in Gilroy following Sunday shooting

A somber prayer service was held Wednesday night in Gilroy to support those affected by the mass shooting at the garlic festival. About 100 people packed South Valley Community Church to comfort and to unite.

In the aftermath of Sunday's mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, families filled the pews of South Valley Community Church. The congregation has been involved with the festival for decades. They were there to pray for all those touched by tragedy from the victims' families to first responders and survivors. 

"We had people who were there at the shooting," said Pastor Isaac Serrano. "We had people running for their lives at the shooting. We had our youth group there. There're different layers of mourning and trauma frankly that's coming out of it."

"It's been a long and very difficult week, very stressful, very overwhelming," said Survivor Andrea Kovach. "I'm grateful to be alive."

The trauma runs deep for church member Andrea Kovach, who had just walked away from a line for alligator sausage at the festival when she heard the gunfire.

"Once we walked away about one, two minutes later, the shooting started," said Kovach. "If we had stayed in line, we would have been right by the shooter."

Familiar with firearms and what a AK47 sounds like, the 23-year-old was among the festival-goers who ran for their lives. She's telling everyone it's okay to be frustrated and angry.

"Our community feels violated," said Kovach. "Even people who weren't at the festival are hurting and obviously feeling the pain of this."

"You go into a warzone, chaos, everything happening at once, the police compound turned into a makeshift triage," said Gilroy Police Chaplain Greg Quirke.

Quirke was with the wounded and the heroes the night of shooting. He said many law enforcement are having a difficult time.

"Everybody expects you to be a superhero during the day but you are flesh and blood like everyone else," said Quirke.

Throughout the night, there were prayers for the shooter's family. 20-year-old Genessis Maravilla is traumatized because she saw Santino Legan every day at school. They were classmates at Gilroy High School, which he attended his senior year. She described him as shy and normal.

"It's a shocker because you never really know, that's the scary moment," said Maravilla. "That's the scary part, you always here in the news. It's happening in other places but you never think it's going to hit home."

On Thursday, there will be another chance for the community to come together and to heal with a candlelight vigil in downtown on Monterey Street.