GILROY (KPIX 5) — The Gilroy Garlic festival had humble beginnings in 1979 with the help of visionary garlic grower Don Christopher and his family. The tragic shooting on Sunday has left the Christopher family heartbroken.
“The young people who lost their lives and the other victims, it’s been very, very hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life,” said Ken Christopher, grandson of Don Christopher and Executive Vice President of Christopher Ranch.
Ken Christopher is concerned about the effect the shootings will have on future festivals.
“We’re going to need to rely on one another to come through this. I have every confidence that we’re going to come through this and we’re going to be stronger than ever before,” he said.
One positive sign of Gilroy’s future popped up a few miles away in the form of a lemonade stand started by children. “A horrible thing happened and right now, we’re trying to make it right,” said 7-year-old Tucker Boyd.
With help from supportive parents, the kids, mostly students from Rucker Elementary School, set up the stand with lemonade and cookies at the corner of Buena Vista and No Name Uno, raising a dollar at a time.
“We’re raising money pretty [much] just to help the victims,” said Aidan Wharton, a 12-year-old.
“Hopefully, the victims can get treatment that they need and try to get back to their daily lives,” said 11 year old Addie Mosher.
It was a small piece of a larger effort to help victims.
“The people in Gilroy are strong and resilient. But they can also use some help,” said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff.
The District Attorney’s victim services unit turned Rucker Elementary into an assistance center. People came throughout the day Tuesday to get a range of services including emotional counseling,
sometimes with the help of facility dogs they can pet.
“They are bringing great comfort to everyone who is around them, the children or adults,” said dog handler Pamela Patterson of Monterey County. Counselors say many people in Gilroy are still feeling a range of emotions: sadness, guilt anger and anxiety. Many who were at the Garlic Festival at the time of the shooting left behind belongings.
12-year-old Maggie Hernandez and her father came back to get their bikes they had to leave behind when the shooting started. The park is still locked down as a crime scene, so they had to walk away. They’ve been coming as a family every year, but Maggie admitted coming back felt different.
“You don’t want anything to happen again. So you get kind of paranoid. You get nervous to come or not even want to come at all,” Hernandez said.
A special foundation has been set up to help the victims.