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December 6, 2023

Some counseling extended for Garlic Festival attendees

Santa Clara County health officials decided Aug. 16 to extend for at least a week special counseling services in Gilroy for anyone affected by the July 28 mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Professional counselors with the county Behavioral Health Services will continue to offer counseling services free of charge 4-8pm Tuesday, Aug. 20 and Thursday Aug. 22, at 1215 First St., Gilroy. Drop-ins are welcomed.

County officials said Friday they had expected that counseling services in local schools provided by the Gilroy Unified School District, with professionals from the Rebekah Children’s Home and Community Solutions in Gilroy, to continue.

School officials, however, said in-school counseling was discontinued Aug. 16, after three weeks. Beginning Monday, Aug. 19, “people requesting counseling support will be referred to our partner agencies”—Community Solutions and the Rebekah Children’s Home—the school district said in a statement.

On Aug. 9, in announcing a continuation of counseling services for students, families and staff at several Gilroy schools, Supt. Debbie Flores had said the Garlic Festival shooting “impacted all of us in one way or another.”

“Counseling is a big part of what we’re doing that first day of school,” Flores said at the time, a week before classes would resume. “We know we’re going to have students coming to school upset. We know we’re going to have families anxious about dropping their children off and we’re going to support them in every way that we can.”

The Gilroy district provided a training session for all staff members on Aug. 12 on trauma and behavior.

Individuals seeking assistance in coping with the trauma of the Garlic Festival shooting also may turn to a county document, “Supporting Wellness and Recovery in Gilroy.” 

Behavioral health services also said a  24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline is available, at 1-800-985-5990 or text TALKWITHUS to 66746 Press 2 for Spanish.

The Victim Services Unit of the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, which had provided counseling in Gilroy in the first two weeks after the shooting, encouraged people with continuing issues to call 1-408-295-2656. “If you were at the Gilroy Garlic Festival during the shooting you and your family qualify for victim witness services,” the unit said in a statement.

Christmas HIll Park remained closed Aug. 17, as police and the FBI continued to process the expansive crime scene for evidence in the shooting, which claimed four lives, including the shooter, and injured 13 people, some of them seriously. Some unclaimed property remained at the park, and authorities reminded the public that people seeking property abandoned at the festival can contact Gilroy Police Department at 408-846-0350.



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