3 Dead, 12 Wounded in Shooting at Gilroy Garlic Festival; Gunman Killed

California Connection
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GILROY -- The Gilroy chief of police says a gunman killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy, and at least 12 others were injured Sunday at the annual Garlic Festival.

At a press briefing held late Sunday night, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee reported the gunman was shot and killed by officers, who were already in the area when gunfire rang out and "engaged the suspect in less than a minute."

Smithee says the gunman came into the Gilroy Garlic Festival from a creek that borders the parking area. Using a tool, he cut through a fence line and began shooting on the north side of the festival.

Gunfire from the suspect's "assault-type" rifle was heard around 5:41 p.m., according to Smithee. The chief of police said it appeared the gunman's actions were "somewhat random."

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

Some witnesses reported a second suspect, Chief Smithee said, but it was unclear whether that person opened fire. He reports officers were still searching for that person late Sunday night and the scene was still active.

Stanford Medical Center has two patients being treated from the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic 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.

The boy who was killed was identified by family as Stephen Romero. His mother and grandmother were also shot, and are among those being treated at the hospital.

Courtesy: Family of Stephen Romero

Cell phone videos posted to Twitter around 6 p.m. show people running away from distant gunfire past rows of tents.

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.

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

"We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandana wrapped around his leg because he got shot. And there were people on the ground, crying," Reyes said. "There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out."

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."

Todd Jones, a sound engineer, told the newspaper 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 Mercury News that she had gone to get food and separated from her two daughters. "I ran to find the girls ... and we basically ran into each other. I thought, 'We're open prey.' It was awful."

Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are responding to the scene. Chief Smithee said several agencies from Santa Clara and Monterey counties joined his officers at the scene.

Police say a reunification center has been set up at Gavilan College in parking lot B. A witness and family reunification line is available at 408-846-0583.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his office was "monitoring the situation closely" Sunday night.

This story is developing.

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