GILROY (KPIX) — Tuesday marks one year since a gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival killing three young victims, wounding 17 others and leaving a community in mourning.
“I think it’s probably every chief’s nightmare to face something like this,” said Gilroy police chief Scot Smithee. “It was very chaotic.”
On the festival’s final day, 19-year-old Santino Legan, carrying a semi-automatic rifle, broke through a fence and began firing into the crowd.
Evelyn Carte was watching local band Tin Man on stage when gunshots pierced the evening sky.
“I just laid flat on the ground on the front of the stage,” Carte said.
The gunman killed three young victims — Stephen Romero, Keyla Salazar and Trevor Irby — before turning the gun on himself.
Investigators believe he planned to cause more bloodshed. The community, although heartbroken, came together amid the tragedy.
“The community of Gilroy is a very special place and I really think that thousands of people from all over town, from all walks of life, have come together to support one another,” Smithee said.
On Tuesday at 5:15 p.m., city leaders will remember the victims and honor the first responders, including the three officers who ran toward the gunfire and tried to stop the shooter. Smithee said, while he was concerned about those three officers, he was also worried about the officers who helped the victims.
He said those are images which will stay with the officers forever.
“I think the question everybody wants to know is motive but, honestly, we don’t know the motive,” Smithee said. “I don’t think we’re ever going to know.”