A gunman opened fire into a crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California on Sunday, July 28, killing at least three people and wounding 15 others, according to information released from City of Gilroy at 5:00 a.m. EST. One of the victims was a 6-year-old boy, Steven Romero, who was at the festival with his mother and grandmother, NBC News reported.
The perpetrator, who was wearing tactical gear and was armed with an assault-type rifle, according to the city, was shot and killed by Gilroy police. Authorities are currently searching for a potential second suspect.
The shooting occurred at one of foodies’ most beloved festivals, which nearly 100,000 people attend each year. It’s a three-day food fair, intended for a joyous celebration of the local garlic industry in Gilroy, a small city of nearly 60,000 people about 30 miles southeast of San Jose. Sunday was the last day of the festival; right when it was about to start wrapping up, around 5:41 p.m., the perpetrator opened fire. He had, apparently, cut through a fence to get into the event, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said in a news conference at 10:00 p.m. Sunday night.
“Who’d shoot up a garlic festival?” a woman can be heard asking in one video, posted to twitter and filmed by @wavyia, that has been viewed more than 1 million times.
Julissa Contreras, a witness and former police cadet, said in an interview, according to NBC News, that an “average white guy” in his 30s, wearing a cap and sports sunglasses was silently shooting to the left and right — “whoever he could, honestly.”
“Some people immediately knew what was going on and saw the guy and ran,” Contreras said in an interview, according to the Washington Post. "Some people were still sitting there unsure.”
“It's sort of a nightmare you hope you never have to live in reality,” Smithee said at the news conference, adding that the suspect was firing “somewhat randomly.” They don’t currently have any information on a possible motive, but they may release more information at another 10:00 a.m. (1:00 p.m. EST) news conference.
“It’s been a long and sad day,” Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco said in a Facebook post in which he proclaimed a local emergency in the city as a result of the shooting. He added at the news conference: “I would ask for the thoughts and prayers of the community as our officers continue to investigate this tragic and senseless crime.”
The shooting comes just the day after one person was killed and 11 more were injured in Brooklyn, New York. That shooting marked the most victims of a single shooting in New York City since 2013, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. There have been nearly 50 mass shootings in the U.S. in July alone, according to Mass Shooting Tracker.
“This is the America we live in now, which I'm kind of ashamed to say as a U.S. citizen,” Contreras told NBC News.