Mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, 4 dead including gunman

People run as a shooter was reported at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in this still image taken from a social media video. Credit: @wavyia on Twitter.

From staff and wire reports

12:01 a.m. Monday — Three people were killed — including a 6-year-old boy — and at least 15 others injured yesterday after a gunman opened fire during a concert at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, an event that draws people from throughout the Bay Area.

Also dead is the shooter, who used a rifle and gained entry to the packed festival by cutting through a fence to avoid the tight security, including metal detectors, police said. Police confronted the gunman within a minute of shots being fired and killed him.

“This is nothing short of horrific,” Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted. “Tonight, CA stands with the Gilroy community.”

Some witnesses reported a second suspect, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said, but it was unclear whether that person opened fire. Police were searching for the second suspect last night.

Witnesses reported confusion and panic as shots rang out at the festival in southern Santa Clara County.

The shooting occurred during the three-day celebration featuring food, cooking competitions and music that attracts more than 100,000 people. Yesterday was the final day of this year’s event.

Shooter near band

The band Tin Man was just starting an encore when shots rang out.

Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle.

Van Breen and other members of the band dove under the stage. Van Breen says he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” and the reply: “because I’m really angry.”

His bandmate Vlad Malinovsky from Walnut Creek said he heard a lot of shots and then it stopped. Later, law enforcement came by and told the band members and others hiding with them to come out with their hands up.

Stanford Medical Center had two patients being treated from the shooting at the festival, spokeswoman Julie Greicius said. She had no details on their injuries or conditions. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center received five victims, spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said. She also had no information on their conditions.

Boy dies

Other victims were taken to St. Louise Regional Medical Center in Gilroy, including the body of the 6-year-old boy who was killed.

Outside the hospital, Alberto Romero confirmed his son Steven had been killed. He said his wife was also shot in the hand and his mother-in-law, the boy’s grandmother, was shot in the leg. He stayed home with his 9-year-old daughter while the rest of the family went to the festival. When he heard what had happened, he rushed to the hospital only to discover his son had died.

Evenny Reyes of Gilroy, 13, said she spent the day at the festival with her friends and relatives.

“We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandanna wrapped around his leg because he got shot. And there were people on the ground, crying,” Reyes told the Bay Area News Group. “There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out.”

Crying, screaming

Reyes said that she didn’t run at first because the gunshots sounded like fireworks. “It started going for five minutes, maybe three. It was like the movies — everyone was crying, people were screaming,” she said.

Todd Jones, a sound engineer, said that he was at the front of the festival’s Vineyard stage when he heard what sounded like a firework. “But then it started to increase, more rapidly, which sounded more like gunfire, and at that point people realized what was happening,” Jones said.

Natalie Martinez, a Gilroy Resident, told the Bay Area News Group that she had gone to get food and separated from her two daughters. “I ran to find the girls. We basically ran into each other. I thought, we’re open prey. It was awful,” she said.

Video first posted on social media sites about 5:30 p.m. showed people running for safety at the festival.

FBI, ATF investigate

Agents from the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene of the shooting.

The Gilroy Police Department on its Twitter account issued a statement saying: “The hearts of Gilroy PD and entire community go out to the victims of today’s shooting at the Garlic Festival.”

President Trump tweeted about the shooting Sunday night, asking people to “be careful and safe!”

Earlier updates

11:05 p.m. Sunday — Among those killed today at the Gilroy Garlic Festival was a 6-year-old boy, Steven Romero of Gilroy. The boy’s father, Alberto Romero, confirmed his son had been killed in an interview with reporters outside St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. The father said his wife was wounded in the hand and his mother-in-law was shot in the leg.

10:19 p.m. — Gilroy police shot and killed a gunman who opened fire today at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, killing three people and injuring at least 12 others, said Police Chief Scot Smithee.

He said police are looking for a second suspect at this hour.

Smithee said at a late-night news conference that Gilroy officers engaged with the suspect in less than a minute, shooting and killing him.

The chief didn’t have an identity for the gunman. The gunman used some sort of a rifle, Smithee said, and it appeared the shooting appears to have been “somewhat random.”

Smithee said the suspects cut through a fence to enter the festival. The festival used metal detectors to screen visitors for weapons, he said.

9:40 p.m. — The band Tin Man was just starting an encore when shots rang out at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle.

Van Breen and other members of the band dove under the stage. Van Breen says he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” and the reply: “Because I’m really angry.”

8:46 p.m. — At least three people were killed and 12 were injured in today’s shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Channel 5 reports, attributing the information to Gilroy City Councilman Dion Bracco.

Channel 5 also reports that law enforcement is shooting for one of the gunman in a levy near Christmas Hill Park, where the festival takes place. At 7:45 p.m., more gunfire was heard in the search area.

8:36 p.m. —The Gilroy Dispatch newspaper is reporting that witnesses who were leaving the Garlic Festival said that there were at least two shooters involved in the incident. The witnesses said one of the shooters was shot by police, the Dispatch said. Channel 5 reported that law enforcement officers were searching a levy near the festival, looking for the shooter or shooters.

8:20 p.m. — At least five people were hospitalized today after a shooting at the Gilroy Garlc Festival, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose has received two victims from the shooting and expects three more, spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said. She had no information on their conditions. At least two victims have arrived at Stanford Hospital, according to spokeswoman Julie Greicius.

Channel 5 reports that law enforcement officers are looking for one or possibly two shooters.

7:30 p.m. — Several ambulances have been dispatched to Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, where at least one shooting victim, and perhaps more, were reported this afternoon at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Police were called shortly after 5:30 p.m. to the festival grounds. Witnesses said the shooting happened during a concert, and a gunman began firing from the side of the stage.

At 7:30, police said the scene is still “active.” NBC Bay Area said they were told by first responders that as many as 11 people were injured.

Videos posted on social media show people appearing to be running for cover, and there were reports of an active shooter.

For those looking to pick up friends and loved ones at the festival, police are urging them to go to Gavilan College Parking lot B.

The festival is a nationally known three-day event that attracts thousands of garlic lovers from throughout the Bay Area. Today was the final day of the festival.

2 Comments

  1. What a tragedy! And to think it happened in our back yard. I pray for the survivors that they can recover and one day have normal lives again.

  2. When are we going to wake up in America and get these guns off the streets? I don’t care anymore about people who say they want them for hunting or who think they’ll be able to defend themselves. We’ve reached the point where those arguments don’t matter any more. The NRA has only themselves to blame for letting this turn into a crisis. We need to confiscate these guns now. Time is overdue.

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