4 dead, 12 wounded in shooting at Gilroy Garlic Festival
Among the dead was the gunman, who had engaged with Gilroy police officers. Law enforcement officials identified the gunman as 19-year-old Santino William Legan of Gilroy.
Police said witness reports indicated there might be one other suspect still at large.
Stephen Romero, 6-years-old, was among the three people killed Sunday evening when the gunman snuck into the Gilroy Garlic Festival and began firing. When Maribel Romero found out grandson had been shot, she went from hospital to hospital looking for him.
“This is really hard, there’s no words to describe (it),” she told CNN affiliate KRON. “I don’t think this is fair.”
At about 5:41 p.m., police responded to reports of a shooting on the north side of Christmas Hill Park, where the three-day festival’s final evening was nearing an end. According to Gilroy Chief of Police Scot Smithee, the festival had strict security measures in place, complete with officers stationed around the festival grounds and both metal detectors and bag searches at the festival entrances.
“We had many officers in the park at the time that this occurred, as we do any day during a festival,” Smithee said.
According to Smithee, the suspected gunman entered the festival from a nearby creek that borders the festival parking lot and used a tool to cut through the fence.
Once the first shots had been fired, the Gilroy Police officers who were onsite approached the area and engaged the suspect, who was wielding a rifle. The suspect was then shot and killed.
“We believe based on witness statements that there was a second individual involved in some way,” Smithee said. “We don’t know what way.”
No descriptions of the suspect at large were immediately available. The gunman who was killed in the shooting had not been identified.
“Our thoughts and prayers are going out to the victims and their families,” Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco said during a news conference Sunday night. “We are continuing the investigation. We plan on being out here all night.”
Held annually in the “Garlic Capital of the World,” the Gilroy Garlic Festival has welcomed thousands each year since its inaugural event in 1979. The three-day festival attracts families who go to walk among the food and shop vendors and enjoy the live entertainment onsite.
Executive Director Brian Bowe expressed sorrow for the victims and gratitude for the first responders who quickly arrived at the scene on Sunday. “Our 4,000-plus local volunteers work so hard every year, and to have seen this event end this way, this day, is one of the most tragic and sad things I’ve ever had to see,” Bowe said. “We all feel so upset for those that are impacted. Friends, families, neighbors. It’s just a horrible thing to experience. I couldn’t feel worse.”
A second news conference was expected to take place Monday morning.
Check back for updates on this developing story.