Garlic Festival responds to shooting

    Garlic Festival Executive Director Brian Bowe addresses reporters the night of July 28. Photo: Robert Eliason

    Officials from the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association said they were “devastated” by the fatal shootings July 28.

    “Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and everyone affected by this horrific event,” reads a statement released by the association. “We are offering any and all resources available to support our community and law enforcement.”

    Executive director Brian Bowe spoke to reporters gathered in the parking lot at Gavilan College Sunday.

    “It’s such a sad, just horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of this year’s festival,” Bowe said. “Our 4,000-plus local volunteers work so hard every year, and to see the event end this way is one of the most tragic and sad things I have ever had to see.

    “It’s just a horrible thing to experience, and I couldn’t feel worse.”

    Shawn Keck, president of the Garlic Festival, thanked the Gilroy Police Department and other first responders “who responded immediately to prevent further loss of life.”

    “We are heartbroken that senseless violence brought this year’s festival to such a terrible and tragic end,” he said.

    Bowe and Garlic Festival spokeswoman Katherine Filice declined to comment further the following afternoon, instead directing questions to the Gilroy Police Department and City of Gilroy.

    Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said police believe the suspect—who was fatally shot by police on patrol inside the festival—had gained entry into the festival by using “some sort of tool” to cut a fence along the perimeter of Christmas Hill Park. He said most people entering into the festival are searched by security using metal-detecting wands, and bags are searched as well.

    “They have very tight security for people getting into the festival,” Smithee said.

    Every page on the Gilroy Garlic Festival website has been removed. The home page of the website only displays a statement from festival officials.