GILROY (CBS SF) — At least four are dead, 15 are injured and hundreds of others were sent scrambling for safety Sunday after at least one gunman opened fire in Christmas Hill Park during the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, according to officials. A suspected gunman is dead.
Gilroy Police tweeted at 7:30 p.m. that they were still dealing with an active shooting scene after shots were first reported at 5:41 p.m.
ATF agents, officers from the San Jose Police Department, the California Highway Patrol and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene. The Santa Clara County Coroner was called to the scene as well.
During a press conference Sunday evening, police confirmed that four were dead in total, including one suspected gunman, and 15 were injured.
Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said the suspect gained entry into the festival by cutting a fence to circumvent security.
Smithee said that law enforcement engaged with at least one suspect within a minute of the shooting, which appeared to be random. Police said there may be a second suspect connected to the shooting, but it was still unclear late Sunday evening.
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
— Gilroy Police (@GilroyPD) July 29, 2019
The band Tin Man was performing an encore on stage at the festival when the gunman opened fire. 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.
Van Breen and other members of the band dove under the stage. Van Breen told KPIX 5 he heard someone shout, “Why are you doing this?” He said the person responded, “Because I’m really angry.”
An attendee in the crowd captured video of Van Breen’s set when the shooting ensued. *WARNING: Possibly distressing footage*
#BREAKING: Video shows moment gunman opens fire on Gilroy garlic festival Sunday evening; 4 people killed (including suspected gunman), 15 others injured. [Warning: Potentially-distressing footage] #GilroyGarlicFestival #GilroyActiveshooter pic.twitter.com/Qiv7GW3j4V
— California Brief (@CaliforniaBrief) July 29, 2019
Multiple SWAT team members from South Bay cities also responded to Gilroy in marked and unmarked vehicles.
— Len Ramirez (@lenKPIX) July 29, 2019
KPIX 5 spoke with Lex Delaherran, who said he may have been hit by shrapnel.
“What happened is I was standing there walking away, I was two minutes away from the stadium where the gunman was opening fire, and all of the sudden I looked at the skies because I’m thinking it’s fireworks, and then there were more shots to follow, and all of the sudden this unknown shrapnel came flying and it struck me in the top of my forehead,” Delaherran said.
Helicopter video showed an intense search in the woodlands along a levee near the park for at least one gunman. KPIX 5 reporter Kiet Do said FBI agents were also at the scene.
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Joy Alexiou says the hospital received seven gunshot wound victims –five came directly from the scene and two were transferred from another hospital. One was discharged Sunday evening. The victims were in varying states of condition, ranging from critical to fair, according Alexiou.
At Stanford, spokeswoman Lisa Kim said they have admitted and are treating two gunshot victims.
St. Louise Medical Center had a total of six gunshot patients. Three are being treated, two were discharged Sunday evening and one died from gunshot wounds. St. Louise is also treating eight non-gunshot patients who suffered injuries trying to escape the chaotic shooting scene.
People waiting outside Regional Medical Center were awaiting word on their loved ones being treated inside. Out of four patients, one male is in critical condition and three females are in good condition at the center, officials said.
Evenny Reyes was among those enjoying the day at the festival when the gunfire erupted around 5:30 p.m., turning the peaceful setting to a scene of utter chaos.
“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 told the San Jose Mercury News. “There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out.”
“It started going for five minutes, maybe three,” she continued. “It was like the movies — everyone was crying, people were screaming.”
“Active shooters prey on the mass of people gathered together and go in there and wreak carnage,” said KPIX 5 security analyst and former FBI agent Jeff Harp. “I don’t suspect any ties to terrorism at this point, although I would not rule that out.”
Meanwhile, a witness at Christmas Hill Park recorded video of people scrambling to escape and posted it on social media.
*WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE*
yo somebody was shooting at the gilroy garlic festival. be safe pic.twitter.com/B39ZIYe8wr
— niah ㊝ (@bradpittshoe) July 29, 2019
Witnesses at the scene said they heard gunshots as late as 7:45 p.m.
President Donald Trump and California Governor Gavin Newsom took to social media to let their followers know about the shooting.
Law Enforcement is at the scene of shootings in Gilroy, California. Reports are that shooter has not yet been apprehended. Be careful and safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2019
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. https://t.co/GrtHjtCEz7
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 29, 2019
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also spoke about the shooting on Twitter, condemning gun violence and calling Congress to action.
The trauma, sorrow, and grief — the horror of mass gun violence has become our American story. My heart goes out to all those in Gilroy tonight. Our Congress can end this tragedy now. @momsdemand https://t.co/Xf8F1QVv32
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) July 29, 2019
Multiple emergency crews and ambulances were sent to the scene, tending to the wounded. Others were evacuated to a nearby amphitheater as a safe point.
Gavilan College was being used as a reunification center for evacuated people and Christopher High School was later added as a second reunification center. Gilroy High School served as the command post for emergency vehicles.
Gilroy police established a witness line and family reunification line: 408-846-0583.
Witness line and family reunification line: 408-846-0583.
If you saw something today please call that number immediately.
Please keep the main GPD line for emergencies only.
Media please do not call that line. A media line will be posted soon.
— Gilroy Police (@GilroyPD) July 29, 2019
Also, detectives were asking if you saw anything pertaining to the shooting on Sunday to please call that number immediately. The main GPD line is for emergencies only, police said.
According to KCBS Radio, the park was on lockdown for hours following the incident. All streets were closed between Luchessa Avenue on the north to Santa Teresa Blvd on the south, and from W. 10th to Godani St. West to East, KCBS said, as law enforcement continued to search for another possible suspect.
The shooting occurred as the festivities were winding down on the final day of the 41st annual food festival, which is among the nation’s most famous.