Relying on the kindness of strangers after a mass shooting

Not knowing where to go, they ran into a gated community where they saw a man watering his lawn....

Among those who survived the recent mass shootings in the U.S., some relied on the kindness of strangers in the aftermath. KCBX news intern Briana Willson was one of those people. She was at the Gilroy Garlic Festival at the end of July when a gunman opened fire...

...The triathletes left their belongings, vehicles and car keys behind. Not knowing where to go, they ran into a gated community where they saw a man watering his lawn. They asked to hide in his backyard.

“He said yes immediately and they gave us water and Gatorade and said we could stay there as long as we needed to, which ended being about two days,” Willson said.

There was confusion in the community in the aftermath of the shooting, and Willson said local police and FBI agents sealed off the festival grounds and nobody knew when they would be let back in. The students had already checked out of their hotel, and weren't sure when they would be able to get their things back. They felt stranded, Willson said, so they stayed. The couple, who asked to remain anonymous, had plenty of spare bedrooms as empty-nesters.

“They just took care of us,” Willson said. "[The wife] gave us candy, pizza and tea. She cooked for us in the mornings, she drove us around when we needed it, they were super supportive, nice and calming and they said it was their duty to help us, if they could do something to help people, that’s what they were going to do and they did it.”

When they weren’t watching the news to find out what happened, the group and the couple talked—about the student’s sports lives, plans after graduation, and their faith.

“It was interesting to have a spiritual discussion when everything seemed to be falling apart around me,” Willson said.

Eventually Willson’s mother came to pick her up, but it would be almost a week before people were allowed back into the grounds to retrieve personal items and vehicles. She said she has kept in contact with the couple, who went from strangers to family in a matter of seconds.

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