Former Israeli Soldiers Saved Wounded Man’s Life After Gaslamp Quarter Shootings

Times of San Diego
Times of San Diego
Dvir Benesh (left) and Shai Gino

The bystander credited with saving a wounded man’s life following Thursday night’s Gaslamp Quarter attacks said modestly on Saturday that he deserves only half the credit.

“My friend also helped,” said Shai Gino, 28, a former captain in the Israel Defense Force now married to an American and studying for U.S. citizenship. His friend, who served in a “special unit” of the IDF, is Dvir Benesh, 26.

Gino said they were standing outside a pizza place in the Gaslamp Quarter when the alleged assailant, identified by police as Travis Fereydoun Sarreshteh, 32, approached, yelling for people “to get out of his way.” Unknown to them at the time, Justice Boldin, 28, an ACE Parking valet, had been fatally shot a few minutes earlier, and two other persons wounded as the gunman had made his way toward them

Two out-of-state visitors hearing the suspect “started laughing” and the gunman said something to the effect of “no one laughs at me” and opened fire, according to Gino. According to police, the gunman’s weapon was a 9 mm “ghost gun” without a serial number that had been assembled from a kit.

“When we saw him starting shooting, we took a few steps back and got down, and when it stopped, we heard a guy screaming that he got shot,” Gino said. “The second we saw that, we jumped to him and gave him first aid, and as they said we saved his life.”

“He had one shot to his chest, under his heart, on the left side and one on his right arm. I put pressure on his arm to stop the bleeding and my friend and I put pressure on his chest also to stop the bleeding.” They observed that both bullets had gone through the victim’s body. “There were in-holes and an out-holes,” said Gino, “so we knew he would be okay.

“We got a towel and tied it to stop the bleeding and we were talking to him in order to keep him conscious. We gave him instructions how to act. Dvir asked him questions and I was on the phone with 9-1-1 in the meantime, telling them where the suspect was walking and telling them about the condition of the victims. After five minutes, the police came and replaced us with the first aid.”

The victim subsequently was taken to the hospital, where he was expected to recover. The other tourist had been shot in the hand, the wound not considered life-threatening.

While the two Israelis were rendering first aid, the suspect was tackled by bystanders and wrestled to the ground where he was held until police arrived. Still struggling as police tried to take him into custody, the suspect was tasered and arrested, according to San Diego Police Chief Dave Nisleit.

Without mentioning Gino or Benesh by name, Nisleit told a news conference that a former combat medic had “saved that man’s life.”

In the IDF, “I gave lessons in first aid for my soldiers,” Gino said. “I was a company commander in the paratroop unit” with 100 soldiers under his command. “I learned more than just first aid but I never got the ‘medic’ title. I said I was a medic there (at the Gaslamp Quarter) because I knew what to do so I told the people there to move back and let me do my thing.”

Gino is from Metula, located in the finger of Israel near Lebanon and Benesh is from Netanya on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. Both are in the process of becoming citizens while working at construction for Forever Builder in Kearny Mesa. Benesh has a sideline as a disc jockey.

Gino said he knows that the family of the man whose life they saved has arrived in San Diego from New Jersey. He expressed hope that he and Dvir would be able to see him soon and see that he is okay.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Boldin’s family. The names of the four wounded victims have not yet been released by authorities.

Donald H. Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted via

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