Police chief: Four dead in Garlic Fest shooting

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.

Mayor Roland Velasco, Police Chief Scot Smithee and Garlic Festival Executive Director Brian Bowe speak during a press conference last night at Gavilan College.

Posted by Gilroy Dispatch on Monday, July 29, 2019

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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. They Disarm the Good People, and Advertise the fact that Nobody there is capable of Defending Themselves or Their Loved Ones… So the Criminals and Lowlifes know that they have the Upper Hand…
    WE THE PEOPLE NEED TO STAND UP FOR OUR RIGHTS… ABOLISH THE TYRANNICAL MEMBERS OF OUR GOVERNMENT, AND DEMAND ACTION AGAINST THOSE WHO LOOK TO TAKE AWAY THE RIGHTS THAT SEPARATE US AS AMERICANS… HAD THE GOOD PEOPLE BEEN ARMED… NOT ONLY WOULD THERE BE FAR LESS HEARTACHE, BUT COWARDS LIKE THIS WOULDN’T EVEN RISK IT..
    GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, BAD PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE… MAKING THE CITIZENS VULNERABLE VICTIMS IS A TRAGEDY…
    GUNS HAVE SAVED FAR MORE LIVES THAN THEY HAVE TAKEN.
    WE HAVE THE BILL OF RIGHTS FOR A REASON… TO PROTECT US MOSTLY FROM THE SAME TYPE OF CONTROLLING, TYRANNICAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TRYING TO TAKE OUR RIGHTS AWAY… THE SAME ONES WE LEFT ENGLAND TO AVOID.
    MAY GOD BLESS AND COMFORT ALL THOSE AFFECTED BY THIS SENSELESS, HATEFUL, TRAGIC EVENT.

    • There was strong police presence at the event. The police responded in just minutes… Trained armed police officers. As much as you’d like to think armed citizens could have stopped this, you’re wrong. What could random people have done that the police officers couldn’t? Other than make the scene more confusing? Imagine you’re a police officer and you run up to two people having a shootout. One is a mass shooter and one is trying to defend himself. Who do you shoot? Have you not thought about this? Are you that dense?

  2. Currently living in Modesto, I have lived and worked in the Gilroy/Morgan Hill area for 20 years.
    Saddened by the events at the festival. Kudos to the Gilroy PD for running towards the gunshots and putting the shooter down very quickly.

  3. I grew up in Gilroy and I am heartbroken.

    When the time comes to talk about solutions I would like for people to consider that our gun epidemic may be a direct result of a generation of kids growing up in a world of war. Don’t you think the increasing violence in our society could be a direct result of our society promoting war and death for the past 20 years? The solution to end the gun violence in America, I feel, is for society to readopt a spirit of peace. We must dismantle the military industrial complex and end our wars. These are actual steps that would change our culture for the better.

    When people talk about “solutions” I NEVER hear this discussed. Everybody has become zombies and have accepted war as normal. People need to wake up and stop waisting energy with their twitter arguments and discuss the cancer (war) in our culture.

    Our country and culture has a soul and our soul is corrupted.

    Also Fed-up,
    Dean Severson
    https://occupypeace.com

  4. My heart goes out to not only all the victims but also to the family of santino no one could have suspected this kind of trajedy from happening his parents and family are some of the best people ive known if i was ever asked what people do i know are the most involved people with there kids hands down it would be the legan family i keep seeing comments everywere sayin this n that about the shooters family and it upsets me cuz some are saying it was racially motivated and that isnt the case i for instance knew santino and his family and im a latino not white there the type of family that would give there shirts off there back if they could help you im not defending there sons actions but just wanted people to know that his family are also victims here they lost a son by his own actions and also they feel the pain that this has caused every person involved here

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