California garlic festival shooting: at least 4 killed including gunman at Gilroy event

A young couple embrace at a parking lot after a shooting at the Gilroy garlic festival in California. Photograph: Thomas Mendoza/AP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


GILROY, Jul 29, 2019, The Guardian. 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 at the Gilroy garlic festival, killing at least three people, before being shot dead by police, reported The Guardian.

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.

Images and videos posted to social media showed a confusing scene.

NBC Bay Area reported that ambulance crews were told 11 people “were down” after shots rang out on the last day of the festival, an annual three-day event south of San Jose celebrating the town’s garlic industry that draws thousands of visitors.

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?”

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.”

Founded in 1979, the Gilroy garlic 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.

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.

Weapons of any kind are prohibited at Christmas Hill Park, according to the event’s website. Security personnel checked bags upon arrival and had handheld metal detectors that they used at their discretion.

The shooting took place as the festival was wrapping up for the year. Festival officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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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