Three Friends Who Survived Las Vegas Massacre Endure Another Mass Shooting At Gilroy Garlic Festival

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Who Are Alicia Olive, Christopher And George Cook? New Details On The Las Vegas Massacre Survivors Also At Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

Alicia Olive didn't know Christopher and George Cook before 2017. They only met because they all survived the worst mass shooting on American soil. Alicia had been at her job as a bartender and the Cook brothers had been attending the Route 91 Harvest Musical Festival the night that Steven Paddock opened fire on the crowd from a hotel window. He killed 58 people and injured 422 more before killing himself. No one ever knew why he did it. 

Olive and the Cook brothers met in a support group for survivors after the attack. Two years later, they decided they would spend a day enjoying another festival, this time the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. Then, another gunman opened fire and the friends found themselves fleeing their second mass shooting in less than three years.

Who are Alicia Olive, Christopher And George Cook? Read on for their stories.

1. Las Vegas shooting

Steve Paddock checked into a pair of rooms at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas at the end of September 2017. Over the next several days, he filled the rooms with weapons and ammunition — by some counts he had over 1000 rounds of ammo with him. He had 24 guns, multiple high-capacity magazines and accessories known as "bump stocks" that allow guns to fire like automatic rifles, even though fully automatic weapons aren't legal in the United States. On October 1, he opened the window of his hotel and started firing indiscriminately down on a crowd of people who were attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, a series of outdoor country music concerts on the Las Vegas Strip. By the time Paddock stopped shooting, 58 people were dead and 422 were injured. It was the worst mass shooting n US history and demonstrated that the Unites States allows access to guns and accessories that can make an individual capable of shooting hundreds of people in a matter of seconds. There were exactly zero changes to federal gun laws in the wake of the massacre, though a few states banned bump stocks afterward. 

The worst mass shooting in US history.

2. Alicia Olive

Alicia Olive was working as a bartender at the Harvest Festival on the night Paddock opened fire on the crowd. The event traumatized her enough that she ended up leaving Las Vegas and moving to California for a fresh start, according to Newsweek. She connected with other survivors in a Facebook group and became friendly with others who had been at the deadly event. However, she never fully felt comfortable in crowded spaces after that night. She told KTVU:  "I would go into either, if it’s a bar or sometimes just a crowded area and something about it, it just, I start to panic." 

Olive survived two mass shootings. 

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3. Christopher and George Cook

The Cook brothers were attending the Harvest Festival as music lovers. They had split up the night of the concert and weren't together as Paddock started killing innocent people. George was in a wheelchair that night and an off duty nurse pushed him to safety during the barrage of gunfire. The image was captured by another attendee and as posted to Facebook, becoming one of the iconic images of that unthinkable night, reports Newsweek.

Lorisa Loy is a nurse who helped George Cook get back to his brother after the shooting. 

4. Friends getting together 

The Cook brothers met Olive in a Facebook group for survivors of the Las Vegas shooting. They decided to get together for the Gilroy Garlic Festival over the weekend, one of the first times Olive felt like she could go out in public and let her guard down. The popular food festival is an annual event in Gilroy, California and it attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. 

They just wanted to have a fun day together.

5. Another mass shooting

As we reported here earlier this week, the Gilroy Garlic Festival became the scene of another mass shooting as the three friends were attending it. Santino William Legan, a 19-year-old from the area, snuck into the festival with a semi-automatic rifle and started firing. Julissa Contreras told NBC that she saw "your average white guy" firing what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle, "kind of just going left to right and shooting whoever he could, honestly.” Police were already onsite to provide security at the festival and it took only one minute for them to get to Legan. But in that short time, he managed to injure 12 people and kill three others, including a six-year-old boy.  

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Three people died at the Gilroy shooting.

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6.  ‘I can’t believe this is happening again.’ 

When the bullets started flying, Olive took off running with others at the festival, trying to find safety. She told Fox40: “I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening again.’ We were trying to find somewhere to get cover.” She posted a Facebook live video as she escaped, in which her face looked stunned and she burst into tears after she reached a place where she could rest. The New York Post reports that Christopher Cook compared the two events saying: "I was able to be a bit more calm this time. Difference was, in Vegas you didn’t know where it (gunfire) was coming from, but in Gilroy, we knew it was behind us.”

Olive shared her feelings after the shooting.

7. Just keep living life

Since the government in the United States seems patently unwilling to do anything about the epidemic of gun violence — over 100 people die of gun injuries every day and mass shootings of three or more people happen on a near-daily basis — people like the Cook brothers have accepted that they can't change how they live due to fear of guns. George Cook told reporters: "Time heals all. I'm not gonna change what I do or how I enjoy myself." For her part, Olive wants to try to affect change to slow the loss of life due to guns, saying: "We can’t tell that to the families that lost someone. Say, ‘oh well that’s life, that’s America. It’s not enough. It’s time to say enough is enough."

Gun violence is rampant in the United States and there is no sign that it will ever change. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.