The Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, was the site of a shooting on Sunday afternoon in which at least four people were killed including the gunman, the Los Angeles Times reports. At least 15 people were injured in the shooting. The festival, a celebration of California-grown garlic that has been held annually since 1979, was in its third and final day when a shooter opened fire on the crowd at approximately 5:41 p.m. local time. According to police Chief Scot Smithee, a suspect was shot and killed by Gilroy police shortly after gunfire broke out. Some witnesses reported a second shooter or confederate, and dozens of law enforcement agencies were investigating, but at publication time, no one else was in custody.
Witnesses described the gunman as a white man in his 30s wearing camouflage pants and some sort of vest. Julissa Contreras told NBC that the shooter was able to achieve a firing rate of “three to four shots per second.”
It was just rapid firing. I could see him shooting in just every direction. He wasn’t aiming at anyone specifically. It was just left to right, right to left. … He definitely was prepared for what he was doing.
Gilroy is in Santa Clara County, south of San Jose, and the annual festival draws tens of thousands of people. This year’s festival featured three stages of musical entertainment, garlic-laden refreshments in “Gourmet Alley,” a cook-off stage with live cooking demonstrations, and the usual assortment of festival vendors and souvenir booths. One attendee captured the moment shots rang out:
Multiple witnesses described the initial sounds as resembling firecrackers; attendees ran and hid as they realized it was gunfire. Members of a band performing onstage during the shooting told NBC that they took cover under their stage. Attendee Vivian Zhang described the thoughts running through her head as she fled to the Los Angeles Times: “I am surviving a mass shooting right now, but I’m not even sure if that will be true in a moment.”
The president urged attendees to be careful and safe:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Kamala Harris expressed their horror at the catastrophe on Twitter:
“This is one of those press conferences that you never want to have to give in your community,” Smithee told the media late Sunday night. The Gilroy Police Department has set up a witness line and family reunification line at (408) 846-0583 and are directing those separated from family members to a reunification center at Gavilan College. Further details about the incident are expected at a press conference to be held Monday morning.