3 Dead, 15 Injured in Mass Shooting at CA Food Festival, Suspect Dead

Gilroy Garlic Festival
Photo credit Kate Cimini / The Salinas Californian via Imagn Content Services, LLC
By , RADIO.COM

(1010 WINS) -- Three people were killed and 15 were injured in a mass shooting that began around 5:30 p.m. Sunday at an annual garlic festival in Gilroy, California, reported The New York Times, citing an interview with local councilman Dion Bracco.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said the gunman was armed with a rifle and snuck in through a fence that borders a parking lot next to a creek and appeared to randomly target people when he opened fire.

Police responded within a minute, engaged the suspect and killed him, 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.

 Police have not yet confirmed the number of victims. 

Initially, NBC Bay Area reported that ambulance crews were told 11 people “were down” after shots rang out on the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, an annual three-day event south of San Jose.

At least five people were transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a spokeswoman said. And a spokeswoman for Stanford Medical Center said it received two patients. The condition of the victims was unknown. 

A witness, Julissa Contreras, told NBC Bay Area that she saw a man in his early to mid-30s firing a rifle that was "able to shoot three to four shots a second."

She added, "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."

Evenny Reyes of Gilroy, 13, told the Mercury News that she spent the day at the Gilroy Garlic Festival with her friends and relatives.

"We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandana 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 told the Mercury News 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."

Todd Jones, a sound engineer, told the newspaper that he was at the front of the festival's Vineyard stage when he heard what sounded like a firework. "But then it started to increase, more rapidly, which sounded more like gunfire, and at that point people realized what was happening," Jones said.

The Gilroy Police Department tweeted, "The hearts of Gilroy PD and entire community go out to the victims of today's shooting at the Garlic Festival. The scene is still active. If you are looking for a loved one, please go to the reunification center at Gavilan College at parking lot B. #GilroyActiveshooter."

The San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also confirmed that it was responding to the shooting. 

According to a Cal Fire website, there were more than a dozen ambulance and fire department units dispatched to the scene.

Gilroy Fire officials reportedly did not want private ambulances going to the scene because they lack tactical gear, suggesting there is an active shooter.

President Donald Trump tweeted about two and a half hours after the shooting began, writing "Law Enforcement is at the scene of shootings in Gilroy, California. Reports are that shooter has not yet been apprehended. Be careful and safe!"

California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted, "This is nothing short of horrific. Tonight, CA stands with the Gilroy community. My office is monitoring the situation closely. Grateful for the law enforcement’s efforts and their continued work as this situation develops."

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is a Democratic presidential hopeful, tweeted, "Simply horrific. I'm grateful to the first responders who are on the scene in Gilroy, and my thoughts are with that community tonight. Our country has a gun violence epidemic that we cannot tolerate."

The Associated Press contributed to this report