GILROY, Calif. — Gilroy police said during a news conference Monday that a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s were killed in the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Sunday evening.
The three victims have not been officially identified by police. Twelve other people were also injured in the shooting.
The shooter, who was identified by police Monday morning, was pronounced dead Sunday night after engaging in a gunfight with police.
“We had over 20 federal, state and local agencies from all over that responded,” Gilroy Chief of Police Scot Smithee said Monday. “It was incredible to see the cooperation and how quickly they put this together and were able to render aid to people.”
According to Smithee, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people attend the annual Garlic Festival, which has been held in Gilroy, the “Garlic Capital of the World,” every year since 1979. The three-day festival was nearing the end of its final day in Christmas Hill Park with thousands still onsite when attendees reported hearing gunfire.
Officers providing security at the festival were quick to engage the suspect, who then turned his AK-47-style semiautomatic rifle on the officers. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the officers for being able to engage this guy as quickly as they did,” Smithee said. “It could have gone so much worse so fast. I’m proud they got there as quickly as they did and were successful in taking the threat out of the equation.”
Though the festival had several security measures in place — including metal detectors and bag searches at the entrances — Smithee said the suspect was able to get into the festival after using a tool to cut through the fence. The semiautomatic rifle that the suspect used shortly thereafter was purchased legally in Nevada on July 9, Smithee said.
Initial witness reports suggested another person may have been involved in the shooting and was still at large Monday morning. “We did have reports of a potential second suspect,” Smithee said. “We don’t have any confirmation that a second suspect did any shooting, but we are investigating all leads to determine who that potential suspect is and what that person’s role was.”
The motive for the shooting was unknown Monday morning.
During Monday morning’s news conference, Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco encouraged resilience and praised the first responders for their swift actions. “Mass gun violence is an epidemic in the United States, and yet one never imagines it can happen here, in our beautiful community,” Velasco said. “It’s beyond sad to see a wonderful and charitable event like the Garlic Festival, that donates tens of thousands of dollars each year to local nonprofits, to have an event like this happen.”