GILROY (KPIX 5) — The town of Gilroy started an emotional day marking the first anniversary of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting with a flag raising ceremony Tuesday morning.
Three people were killed and 19 others were injured during the terrifying mass shooting at the popular event last summer.
In the days following the shooting, KPIX 5 talked with dozens of witnesses, neighbors, and business owners and got a strong sense of Gilroy’s pride and community. That feeling was still here, one year later.
The crime scene at Christmas Hill Park is now an empty field. Next door, a memorial has been built to honor the survivors and the three victims who died.
Painted rocks ring a palm tree near where the gunman cut through a fence to enter the festival before he fired dozens of rounds from an assault rifle exactly one year ago Tuesday.
While Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco noted that everyone is trying hard to move on, he and the city council would not let the day go by without recognizing how far they’ve come.
The small town has raised $1.9 million for the victims fund.
“Our greatest can’t be bought or sold, or taught in any community. Because our greatest asset is our collective spirit of caring and belonging,” said Velasco.
In the days following the shooting, the hashtag #GilroyStrong emerged. That still rings true today with the Tuesday morning ceremony raising a flag bearing that hashtag.
The mayor wanted to be clear that this year’s Garlic Festival was canceled because of the pandemic and it will be back next year.
“Today, we raise the #GilroyStrong flag to represent the strength and resilience each and every one of you has shown this last year,” said Velasco. “This flag represents our collective spirit and desire to rise above senseless acts of violence.”
Gilroy will be remembering the victims and honoring first responders at Christmas Hill Park Tuesday night. The “Rising Together” ceremony is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m..