July 29, 2019
Police kill gunman, whose motive remains unclear, amid witness reports of a possible second suspect
California garlic festival shooting: gunman kills at least four at Gilroy event
At least four people were killed after a shooter opened fire at an annual food festival in northern California.
A gunman opened fire on Sunday evening on the last day of the Gilroy garlic festival, killing at least three people, before being shot dead by police. At least 15 people were injured.
The Gilroy police chief, Scot Smithee, said some witnesses had reported that there may have been a second suspect, but authorities were not sure that second individual was engaged in the shooting.
Authorities did not release further information on the identity of the suspect or the victims. The police chief said the motive behind the killings remained unclear.
“This is one of those press conferences that you never want to give in your community. It’s sort of a nightmare that you hope to never have to live in reality, but we find ourselves in the circumstances where we have to live it today,” a tearful Smithee said.
Images and videos posted to social media showed a confusing scene.
The shooting took place near the end of the Gilroy garlic festival, an annual three-day event south of San Jose celebrating the town’s garlic industry.
Founded in 1979, the festival revolves around the celebrated crop of the region, featuring garlic-inspired foods, drink, live entertainment and cooking competitions. It is hosted by volunteers and describes itself as the world’s greatest summer food festival.
California garlic festival shooting: gunman kills at least four at Gilroy event
Just a few hours before the shooting, festival-goers were still showing up by the busload, milling around the outdoor Christmas Hill Park under a hot sun and amid the scent of garlic.
Parents fed their toddlers bites of garlic ice cream as families lounged under the shade of the trees, fanning themselves in the heat. Women danced to the live music while others munched on garlic fries, garlic pasta, garlic bread and garlic shrimp.
Videos posted on social media appeared to show festival attendees scattering in confusion as at least one loud popping sound could be heard in the background.
“What’s going on?” a woman can be heard asking on one video. “Who’d shoot up a garlic festival?”
Authorities said the gunman used “some type of rifle”. Weapons of any kind are prohibited at Christmas Hill Park and security personnel check bags upon arrival. But authorities said the gunman appeared to have entered the festival by walking through a creek and cutting through a perimeter fence.
Evenny Reyes, 13, told the San Jose Mercury News that at first she thought the sound of gunfire was fireworks. But then she saw someone with a wounded leg.
“We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandana wrapped around his leg because he got shot,” Reyes told the newspaper. “There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out.”
Jack van Breen, the singer of the band Tin Man, told the Associated Press 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 dived under the stage. Van Breen says he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” and the reply was: “Because I’m really angry.”
California garlic festival shooting: gunman kills at least four at Gilroy event
The shooting took place as the festival was wrapping up for the year.
The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, said his office was monitoring the situation closely. “This is nothing short of horrific,” Newsom said.
Donald Trump also commented on the shooting and encouraged people to “be careful and safe!”
Gilroy is about 30 miles (48 km) south of San Jose.
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