The mass shooting at a popular food festival in Northern California claimed the lives of three young people, including two children.
Six-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar and Trevor Irby, a 2017 college graduate, were killed Sunday when a gunman sneaked into the Gilroy Garlic Festival and began firing. Police killed the shooter.
Stephen’s death stunned his family and neighbors.
Stephen’s father, Alberto Romero, told CNN affiliate the San Jose Mercury News newspaper that he was at home when his wife called to say she, her mother and their son had been shot at the annual festival.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening, that what she was saying was a lie, maybe I was dreaming,” he said.
The dad went to a hospital to see his son.
“They told me he was in critical condition and that they were working on him,” he said. “Five minutes later they told me he was dead.”
When paternal grandmother Maribel Romero found out the boy had been shot, she went from hospital to hospital looking for him. Stephen was a happy kid, she said.
“This is really hard, there’s no words to describe (it),” she told CNN affiliate KRON of her grandson’s death. “I don’t think this is fair.”
Irby graduated from Keuka College in New York with a degree in biology, the college said in a statement.
“Our hearts go out to Trevor’s family and loved ones,” said Amy Storey, the college’s president. “We are shocked that this latest episode of senseless gun violence resulted in the loss of one of our recent graduates—graduates in whom we place so much hope because of their potential to create a brighter tomorrow.”
Keyla Salazar, the third victim, was from San Jose, according to the Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The Associated Press reports Keyla’s aunt says the teen was eating ice cream with family members when they heard gunshots and began to flee. Katiuska Vargas says her niece stayed back to keep pace with a relative who uses a cane and was shot with a bullet that otherwise might have hit that woman.
Vargas says Keyla’s stepfather was wounded as he went back for her.
Vargas says she and Keyla’s mother at first didn’t know where Keyla was taken for treatment, so they drove to every local hospital several times.
The girl later died at a Gilroy hospital.
Keyla’s two sisters, ages 4 and 12, also were at the festival, but they escaped unharmed.
Twelve others were injured at what was supposed to be a family-friendly event.
About 100,000 people attend the decades-old festival each year, previous records show.
And collectively, the event has helped raise “millions of dollars for local schools, charities and nonprofit organizations,” the festival’s website says.
‘We need to know … there’s justice’
Stephen’s mother was shot in the hand and in the stomach and is expected to survive, KRON reported.
Gilroy City Council member Fred M. Tovar told CNN early Monday he was saddened by the news of the child’s death.
“I pray that God will grant his family strength. My most sincere condolences. I will keep your family close in my thoughts and prayers in the coming weeks as you are going through the process of grieving,” he said in a statement.