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December 9, 2023

We shall overcome

The Gilroy Unified School District has been working cooperatively with the Gilroy Police Department since the tragic shooting occurred. Multiple school facilities have been made available for evacuations, space for law enforcement to use as they see fit and housing for people who couldn’t reach their belongings and vehicles at the Garlic Festival location. Our bus drivers drove many evacuees from the festival to the evacuation centers and reunification sites. District leadership provided support throughout the night and the next morning wherever it was needed. Counselors from numerous agencies and district counselors were located at Christopher High School, providing counseling to students, families and staff.
It is difficult to estimate the number of students who volunteered at this year’s Garlic Festival, but a safe number is probably in the 400-500 range over the three days. Most high school sports teams, cheerleaders, bands and choir, as well as individual schools had booths at the Garlic Festival and student volunteers completed shifts in these booths there and in Gourmet Alley as they do every year. The funds raised will go directly to the schools. We do not know the amount of money raised, but without it many programs and activities could not happen as the funds typically are used to cover the cost of uniforms, buses to competitions, fees for competitions and so much more.
I have no words to express my deep sorrow for everyone who has been impacted by this terrible shooting. My prayers go out to those who have lost a loved one or who have a friend or family member who has been injured. I know we will not let horrific acts of violence like this diminish our love for this wonderful community. We are strong and we will overcome this tragedy.
Debbie Flores, Gilroy Schools Superintendent

Sense of community

Our deepest sorrow and sympathy is extended to the victims and families of those shot and otherwise injured at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. We honor and thank the men and women who acted quickly to help shelter and comfort those at the event.
There will never be a justified reason for any harm to innocent beings. The incident over the weekend is a reminder of both how one person’s or a few individuals’ ill intent can destroy and disrupt so many lives, but also how susceptible each of us is to the crazed thoughts and actions of any deranged individual.
The Gilroy festival mass shooting comes just over a month after the June 26, shooting of two auto dealership managers in Morgan Hill. The Morgan Hill and Gilroy communities are tightly woven together as a south county region and we are linked by family, friends, and work relationships. Many Morgan Hill families and those with jobs in Morgan Hill are impacted by the Gilroy tragedy. I know you will be supportive of our Gilroy neighbors as they struggle through this difficult time. Whether these horrendous crimes occur in our neighborhoods or other places on Earth, they shatter lives and our sense of security and comfort around the world.
What we know however, is that our community and our society cannot succumb to the mental instability which seems to be growing around the world. Now has to be a time to reach out to one another and reconnect to the values we hold so dearly and to protect the cause of a civilized society. We must reach out to those who are despondent, hurting, or have a degraded value of interpersonal connection. It is a time to show compassion for those who have experienced tragedy and or shocking events. The strength of our community will be marked by our ability to invest in the human condition we each value so much.
Steve Betando, Superintendent, Morgan Hill Unified School District

This author byline indicates that the post was contributed by a member of the community.

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