Gilroy man named Garlic Festival hero

Alex Wheaton was a security guard July 28

Private security guards were among the first responders at the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting in July. The team from First Security assisted Gilroy police and festival staff at the annual event, and provided first aid and crowd control at Christmas Hill Park.

First Security guards from Gilroy and Hollister were among six guards honored Oct. 16 for bravery in ceremonies at the annual convention of the California Association of Licensed Security Agencies, Guards & Associates.

Each individual received a Lifesaving Award from fellow security professionals.

“Every day in California, thousands of private security officers guard our state’s infrastructure, property, popular tourist attractions and more,” the association said in its award announcement. “When disasters, emergencies and crimes occur, these security professionals are often the first to respond.”

In presenting the award to Paul Gutierrez of Hollister, who was the First Security site supervisor at the festival, the association citation read, “During shooting that occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Festival these brave individuals ushered civilians to safety, began performing first aid before medical personnel could arrive and safely evacuated disabled and handicapped individuals. Security professionals also helped by putting injured members of the public into their patrol vehicles and driving them to the hospital to save valuable time.”

First Security guard Alexander Wheaton of Gilroy also received a Lifesaving Award, but was not able to attend the ceremonies in Rancho Mirage.

Others receiving a Lifesaving Award were Eric Bahri and Matt Luther of Salinas, Juliana Merendon of Watsonville and John Pazocuin of Marina.

All winners were presented with a certificate from the California State Assembly signed by his or her Assemblymember,  a check for $500 (sponsored by TrackTik) and a Lifesaving Award medal.

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