A police officer stands guard at Gilroy High School after a deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., on Sunday, July 28, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Boy, 6, among victims of California festival shooting

Video posted to social media showed people running in terror as shots rang out

A shooter cut through a fence and opened fire on a crowd eating and listening to music at a popular food festival in California, killing three people, including a 6-year-old boy, and wounding at least 15 others before police quickly shot him dead, authorities said.

A law enforcement official said the gunman was identified as Santino William Legan and believed he was 19. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday.

The shooter appeared to randomly target people when fired with a rifle Sunday afternoon, the end of the three-day Gilroy Garlic Festival that attracts more than 100,000 people to the city known as the “Garlic Capital of the World,” Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said.

The shooter sneaked in through a fence that borders a parking lot next to a creek. Police responded within a minute and killed the suspect, Smithee said.

Some witnesses reported a second suspect, Smithee said, but it was unclear whether that person was armed or simply provided assistance. A manhunt continued late into the night.

Six-year-old Stephen Romero was among those killed, his father said.

“My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6,” Alberto Romero told San Francisco Bay Area news station KNTV. “That’s all I can say.”

The boy’s grandmother, Maribel Romero, told Los Angeles station KABC-TV that she searched several hospitals before learning he had died. She said he was “always kind, happy and, you know, playful.”

The wounded were taken to multiple hospitals, and their conditions ranged from fair to critical, with some undergoing surgery. At least five were treated and released.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival features food, cooking contests and music. It’s a decades-old staple in the agricultural city of 50,000 about 80 miles (176 kilometres) southeast of San Francisco. Festivalgoers pass through metal detectors and their bags are searched at the event.

The band TinMan was starting an encore Sunday when the shooting started. Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle. He and other members of the band dove under the stage.

Van Breen, from nearby Santa Clara, said he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” The reply: “Because I’m really angry.”

The audience began screaming and running, and the five members of the band and others dove under the stage.

Bandmate Vlad Malinovsky said he heard a lot of shots and then it stopped. Later, law enforcement told those hiding to come out with their hands up.

Taylor Jackson was working at a booth drawing caricatures when she heard gunfire, saw people running and “ran for the hills.” She said her boss ran in the opposite direction. Several hours later, Jackson was at a reunification centre trying to get information on her whereabouts.

Donna Carlson of Reno, Nevada, was helping a friend at a jewelry booth when “all of a sudden it was pop, pop, pop. And I said, ‘I sure hope that’s fireworks.’” She got on her hands and knees and hid behind a table until police told her it was safe to leave.

In a tweet, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the bloodshed “nothing short of horrific” and expressed appreciation for the police response. President Donald Trump tweeted before authorities confirmed the gunman was dead and urged people to “be careful and safe!”

Video posted to social media showed people running in terror as shots rang out.

Evenny Reyes of Gilroy, 13, told the Mercury News in San Jose that she spent the day at the festival with her friends and relatives.

“We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandanna wrapped around his leg because he got shot. And there were people on the ground, crying,” Reyes said. “There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out.”

Reyes said that she didn’t run at first because the gunshots sounded like fireworks.

“It started going for five minutes, maybe three. It was like the movies — everyone was crying, people were screaming,” she said.

___

Associated Press reporter Mike Balsamo contributed to this story from Washington.

Martha Mendoza And Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon gallery hosts Art After Dark

Event hosted by the Vernon Public Art Gallery Friday, Feb. 28

Vernon tennis player named Best of BC winner

Sport BC honours Vasek Pospisil for his comeback season after back surgery

Vernon golf course sinks construction on new clubhouse

Owners at The Rise are in a dispute with City of Vernon over tax assessment

Coaches take on players to honour Vernon volleyball player

Vernon Sky Club hosting event with proceeds to the Emily Dahl Foundation

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Fire crews battle large blaze in West Kelowna

Reports of multiple structures on fire in the Colleen Road area

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Kelowna man charged after naked driver leads RCMP on hit-and-run spree

A Kelowna man has been charged with numerous offences

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Most Read