Two brothers and their friend have survived two mass shootings since 2017

"I don't know how it'll be when I go out [now]," Alicia Olive said after the Gilroy Garlic Festival

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 2, 2019 7:25PM (EDT)

Candles burn at a makeshift memorial for Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting victims outside the festival grounds, Monday, July 29, 2019, in Gilroy, Calif.  (AP/Noah Berger)
Candles burn at a makeshift memorial for Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting victims outside the festival grounds, Monday, July 29, 2019, in Gilroy, Calif. (AP/Noah Berger)

A new report this week reveals that two brothers and their friend have together survived two mass shootings since 2017.

Christopher Cook, George Cook and Alicia Olive attended both the 2017 Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas and the Gilroy Garlic Festival last month in California, according to CNN.

During the Route 91 Harvest festival, the Cook brothers and Olive escaped from a hail of gunfire sparked by mass shooter Stephen Paddock, who ultimately killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others. The Cooks and Olive were attending the outdoor country music concert, with Jason Aldean performing at the time that the shooting occurred. They were not friends at that time but later became acquainted through a Facebook support group.

Coincidentally, a photograph of George Cook being pushed to safety in a wheelchair by a nurse was widely viewed at the time of the Las Vegas shooting. His brother Christopher Cook posted the picture on Facebook and added, "Running for their lives in Vegas. Moments before Nurse Lorisa Loy from Sunrise Hospital pushed my bro to safety, and back to me once I was able to run back in to get him after the panicked crowd passed by me. It would have been nearly impossible for Geo to navigate around all the debris on the ground without Lorisa's valiant efforts."

The Cook brothers opened up to CNN about what it was like to experience another mass shooting this week at the Gilroy Garlic Festival:

Sunday, the brothers attended the Gilroy Garlic Festival when a gunman opened fire. Three people were killed and 12 injured.

Physically the Cook brothers escaped unharmed, however mentally, Christopher told CNN he's been dealing with a wave of emotions.

"You think you're grateful for everything you have until something like this happens," he said.

George told CNN the two experiences were very different for him.

"It wasn't even a thought at all," he said. "This was a family thing."

George said he definitely felt like a target in Vegas, but this time around in Gilroy he didn't feel that as much and he said maybe that's because he's been to many festivals since Vegas.

"Time heals all," he said. "I'm not gonna change what I do or how I enjoy myself."

Olive, meanwhile, described how she had found it difficult to go outside or feel comfortable in public following the Las Vegas shooting. The Gilroy Garlic Festival was the first time she had really let her guard down since surviving the 2017 tragedy.

"I don't know how it'll be when I go out [now]," Olive told CNN after the Gilroy massacre. "But I know I feel a lot of the same things as I did when Vegas happened."

Christopher Cook was able to explain how his experience in Gilroy differed from Las Vegas.

"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 that it [gunfire] was behind us," Christopher Cook told CNN.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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