A gunman shot more than 15 people and killed three victims before police shot and killed the suspect at the Gilroy Garlic Festival July 28, according to Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee. As of a press conference shortly after 10pm Sunday night, police were still looking for a second suspect who may have been involved in the shooting at Gilroy’s Christmas Hill Park.
Smithee said at the press conference at Gavilan College in southwest Gilroy that the suspect cut through a perimeter fence surrounding the Garlic Festival grounds to enter the crowded festival without passing through security checkpoints. The suspect used a rifle to shoot the victims, though Smithee did not identify the specific kind of firearm. Witnesses said it appeared to be a type of assault weapon.
The suspect was shot and killed by Gilroy police within a minute of the first reports of gunshots, Smithee said. No information about the suspect has been released.
A spokeswoman for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center said one of the shooting victims died at Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy. Three shooting victims remain at SLRH in serious condition, while two other patients were transferred from the Gilroy hospital to Valley Med, according to Valley Med spokeswoman Joy Alexiou. In addition, five gunshot victims, ranging in condition from critical to fair, were transported directly to Valley Med from the scene.
That makes a total of 11 shooting victims treated at county hospitals stemming from the incident, which was reported to emergency dispatchers as an active shooter situation about 5:30pm Sunday at Christmas Hill Park. The scene remained active until at least 10pm, Smithee said at the press conference. Police have not released any information about the suspect, who died at the scene, or the suspect who may still be on the loose.
Witnesses leaving the Garlic Festival shortly after the shooting reported they saw at least two suspects involved in the incident. Witness Cheryl Low told the Dispatch that she saw police shoot and kill a suspect.
Videos posted to social media by festival attendees showed panicked crowds fleeing the area as gunshots rang out in the background.
Ambulances reportedly arrived at Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy with victims by about 7pm. Authorities requested more ambulances from San Jose to assist with casualties.
Gilroy Police tweeted at 7:22pm that those who are looking for loved ones who might have been at the festival at the time of the shooting can go to the reunification center at Gavilan College, parking lot B. The Gilroy Police Department also tweeted that witnesses to the shooting and those seeking to be reunited with family members can call (408) 846-0583.
“The hearts of Gilroy PD and the entire community go out to the victims of today’s shooting at the Garlic Festival,” read a post to Gilroy Police’s Twitter feed.
Greg Guglielmo, whose family winery in Morgan Hill supplies wine to the booths and has done so for 40 years, was on the ranch side by the vendor booths close to Gourmet Alley right before closing time at 6:45pm when he heard gunshots rang out.
“It’s a very sad situation,” said Guglielmo, who at first thought the loud bangs were firecrackers. “This is such a great festival to be marred by something like this…I’ve never seen so many police cars in one place.”
Like Guglielmo, other witnesses who were contacting loved ones as they were walking down Miller Avenue away from the festival grounds said they heard what they thought was firecrackers and then people “started flipping out and running away.”
One festival-goer said he saw one shooter dead and handcuffed behind his back near the slide in the Kids Play area.
“I saw them carrying kids out, ladies shot,” he said.
Naté Hines, of Oakland, said she was with her husband and Godson eating at a picnic table under the giant tent when she heard gunshots in close proximity. She was sitting with her family waiting to get picked up and taken to their vehicle.
“My first thought was that it was firecrackers, but then I just saw people running. I grabbed him and we got out of there and to safety,” said Hines, as her family waited near Gilroy High School to be picked up and taken to their vehicle.
Hines said they were moved several times through the back of the park near the amphitheater, where she saw several victims being tended to with gunshot wounds.
“We saw about four victims. They were wheeling them out and picking them up in trucks,” said Hines, a Garlic Festival lover who attended the last eight years. “Next thing we hear is there was a second shooter and that’s when we got out of there.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted that it is sending personnel to the scene of the July 28 shooting.
Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted at 8:26pm July 28, “This is nothing short of horrific. Tonight, CA stands with the Gilroy community. My office is monitoring the situation closely. Grateful for the law enforcement’s efforts and their continued work as this situation develops.”
President Donald Trump tweeted at 8:08pm Sunday, “Law Enforcement is at the scene of shootings in Gilroy, California. Reports are that shooter has not yet been apprehended. Be careful and safe!”
Further details, including any information about a suspect or suspects, have not been confirmed.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival was wrapping up its third day when the shooting occurred.