GILROY (KPIX) — Four days after tragedy struck the community of Gilroy, hundreds gathered Thursday evening for a vigil to honor the victims of the Garlic Festival shooting that took three lives and wounded several others.
“That bastard did not destroy us,” Gilroy mayor Roland Velasco told the crowd.
On Sunday afternoon, in the final hours of the family-friendly festival, Santino William Legan used an assault-style rifle to spray bullets at festival goers.
Stephen Romero, 6, Keyla Salazar, 13 and 25-year-old Trevor Irby were hit and died.
Thursday’s vigil, which was held in the heart of Gilroy, was emotional. However, organizers made sure it was not about the gunman; instead they honored the victims, survivors, first responders and unsung heroes.
“Ladies and gentlemen there were a lot of angels that day,” said Velasco.
“This is what Gilroy is all about, we love our town, a lot of us have known each other since we were kids and our parents went to school together since they were kids,” said Gilroy resident Camille Brown about the hundreds who came together for the vigil.
“I mean I’m not surprised, this is what Gilroy is all about, this is what the Garlic Festival is all about.”
Among the speakers was Gilroy police chief Scot Smithee who received a standing ovation as he took the podium.
He choked up while talking about how his officers had handled the tragedy.
“You know, it’s been a rough week, it’s been a rough week for my staff,” Smithee said. “I gotta tell you, I’m pretty damn proud of them.”
He said in light of the shooting, he was postponing next week’s National Night Out until October so he could get as many of his officers as possible out to the event to meet the community.
“We can’t let this stop us, we have to go through the pain, we have to work through it,” he said. “At the end we have to come out stronger and we have to show the world what we’re made of.”
As the sun set, the crowd lit candles and chanted together: “Gilroy strong, Gilroy strong.”