The Gilroy Garlic Festival, billed as “the world’s greatest summer food festival,” attracts nearly 100,000 people each year. The final day of this year’s festivities was winding down when gunfire rang out around 5:41 p.m. local time, according to the Gilroy Police Department. Videos shared on social media show festival attendees fleeing the tent-lined festival grounds amid the sounds of gunshots.
Within a minute, the shooter was killed by police officers, bringing the number of fatalities to four. The gunman is suspected to have crossed a bordering creek and cut through a fence to avoid security and gain access to the festival, according to police. He was dressed in a military-style outfit and appeared to be carrying an assault rifle, a witness told the Washington Post. As of early Monday morning, the crime scene is still active, and police are searching for a possible second suspect based on witness statements.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival, which has been held every year since 1979, is beloved by Gilroy, a major producer of garlic and a Northern Californian city with a population of around 58,000. The three-day annual fair is known for its focus on California-grown garlic, garlic ice cream, cooking competitions, and live entertainment.
“That is our crown jewel in terms of our cultural identity,” city councilman and festival volunteer Peter Leroe-Munoz told the New York Times. “For this kind of tragedy to take place at something so core to our community, it is a tragedy beyond words.”
This is the 244th mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year.
- 4 Dead, Including Suspect, 12 Hurt in Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting; Scene Still Active: Police [NBC Bay Area]
- ‘Nothing short of horrific’: Three dead, at least 15 injured in shooting at California food festival [Washington Post]
- Shooting at Festival in California Kills at Least 3 [NYT]
- At least 3 dead in California garlic festival shooting [CNN]