A gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California on early Sunday evening, killing three people and wounding at least 15 more, before being shot and killed by police.
Among the dead was a six-year-old boy.
Dressed in fatigues, the gunman made a concerted effort to avoid security at the event being held in Gilroy, California, using “some sort of tool” to cut through a fence to gain access, according to NBC Bay Area.
There were security check points with metal detectors at festival entrances.
The shooting broke out around 5:40 p.m., and Gilroy police, who set up a temporary station at the event, engaged the man and killed him within a minute. According to a law enforcement source, the suspect was “not on our radar.”
“Many officers were at the festival, which accounts for the very quick response time,” Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee told reporters at a news conference.
Early reports revealed the gunman, who was said to be a white male in his 30s, used a long gun.
“He came to do some damage,” said NBC Bay Area reporter Stephen Stock.
There were reports of a second gunman and multiple agencies were still searching for a possible outstanding suspect well into the evening, according to Gilroy police — this being the result of what witnesses told police. There was reportedly no evidence of a second shooter.
This is scene right now in what police call the hot zone. Still searching for active shooter at Gilroy Garlic Festival . Reports of up to 11 people injured. Investigating whether there were 2 shooters pic.twitter.com/C4NQnBzrfg
— Marianne Favro (@mariannefavro) July 29, 2019
“We believe, based on witness statements that a second person was involved in some way,” Smithee said. “We don’t know what the involvement of the second suspect was.”
Family members identified the young boy killed as Steven Romero.
“My son had his whole life to live and he was only six,” his father Alberto Romero told the NBC affiliate. “That’s all I can say.”
There were multiple federal agencies on hand to assist in the investigation, including the FBI.
Authorities were checking the background of the suspect to see if he has any ties to either domestic or foreign hate or terrorist groups — this being standard procedure.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival, founded in 1979, bills itself as “the world’s greatest summer food festival,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The three-day event is hosted by community volunteers and raises money for local schools, charities and nonprofit organizations.
The festival is a three-day event that attracts tens of thousands of people. It is hosted by community volunteers.
“It is such a sad, just horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of the festival,” Brian Bowe, the executive director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, said at a news conference, according to the newspaper. “And to have seen this event end this way this day is just one of the most tragic and sad things I have ever had to see.”
Videos of a panicked crowd running from the scene of the shooting were shared on social media
#BREAKING UPDATE: Ambulance crews were told 11 people down in a reported shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. https://t.co/ufzR4VllUL pic.twitter.com/giApm5t2bX
— Stephen Ellison (@sj_ellison) July 29, 2019
BREAKING: witnesses report a shooter standing on or near a stage shooting into the crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Stay safe!#Gilroy#GilroyGarlicFestival pic.twitter.com/K4f24GAIgB
— Jawn Deaux (@JawnDeauxCorp) July 29, 2019
yo somebody was shooting at the gilroy garlic festival. be safe pic.twitter.com/B39ZIYe8wr
— niah ㊝ (@wavyia) July 29, 2019
One witness gives a horrific account of what she experienced during the shooting.
“We heard some shots but it sounded like it was firecrackers at first,” she told NBC Bay Area. “But then it got very loud. The shots got very, very loud and so that’s when we knew that something was wrong.”
She added, “And the vendor that was getting ready to serve me, she actually said, ‘Get down, that’s gunfire! There’s a shooter!'”
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