A garlic festival that attracts thousands annually in Gilroy, California, became the scene of the latest mass shooting after a gunman opened fire on festivalgoers, killing three, including a 6-year-old boy, and wounding more than a dozen others Sunday — on the third and final day of the festival.
Ryan Wallace, who was working as a vendor at the festival, described seeing the chaos unfold after the shooter walked up wearing military-style clothing, including a tactical vest, cargo pants and boots, looking “ready to do some damage.”
“He just rose his gun up and started spraying out rounds all around,” Wallace told NBC Bay Area.
As Wallace fled the gunfire, he said he “heard at least 15 or 20 shots” and hid under a trailer until being told to run.
Police shot and killed one suspect and were searching for a possible second person involved late Sunday night. Authorities had no information on a possible motive.
Another witness, Gloria Parker, told NBC Bay Area that she and others who fled the scene heard loud bangs and initially thought they were firecrackers.
A 6-year-old boy was killed in the shooting. He was later identified as Steven Romero.
“My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6,” the boy’s father told NBC Bay Area. “That’s all I can say.”
The festival, now in its 41st year, is one of the largest food festivals in California and exists as an “annual family reunion” for locals, said Brian Bowe, executive director of the festival, at a press conference Sunday night.
“To have seen this event end this way this day is just one of the most tragic and sad things I have ever had to see,” Bowe said.
In one video posted to Facebook, a man and his family hid behind a shuttle van as police sirens can be heard in the background.
“You’re ok,” Greg Degrandis can be heard saying to a person crying nearby.
A voice out of frame shouts “Get out!” before Degrandis climbs into the van.
“Oh my god. I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Degrandis said as the family drives away. “I just hope nobody is hurt.”
Julissa Contreras, a witness who said she was a former police cadet, described the shooter as a man in his late 30s wearing what appeared to be military-style clothing, NBC News reported. He was firing what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle, “kind of just going left to right and shooting whoever he could, honestly,” she said.
President Donald Trump, Gov. Gavin Newsom and other politicians reacted to the shooting on social media late Sunday. Attorney General William Barr was briefed on the shooting, and the Justice Department is providing resources and monitoring the situation, a spokesperson said early Monday.
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