Victims of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting were named by family members and authorities.
Community members and families were enjoying a Sunday out at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, California when a shooting turned the festival into a scene of chaos and panic.
Three people tragically died in the shooting. The shooter was also killed. The first victim to be identified was Stephen Romero, a 6-year-old boy from San Jose.
At least 11 others were injured in the shooting.
Shots rang out at about 5:40 p.m. on the north side of the crowded festival. Police were already in the area and “engaged” the suspect within one minute, who was killed, said Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee. Police were working to identify a second suspect. It was not immediately clear how the second suspect was involved.
Two suspects cut through a gate to enter the festival from the area of a creek, according to Smithee. Security prevented anyone from entering the grounds with a gun through the entrance.
The mass shooting was “a nightmare” that hit Gilroy, he said.
“The city of Gilroy is an incredible community, and we have incredible people here, and I’m really proud to be the chief here and lead this force,” he said during a press conference.
Brian Bowe, director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, also spoke about the bond the community shares, saying Gilroy is a family.
“This festival is like our annual family reunion,” he said.
Several people attending the festival captured the panic on the scene as people ran from gunfire on video.
A person shouted in the background of one video, “I’m not leaving her!”
A family reunification center and witness hotline was set up for the mass shooting. Gilroy Police said their hearts were with the victims.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
“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,” they added.
A witness, Julissa Contreras, told NBC Bay Area NBC Bay Area she saw a shooter with a rifle who was firing rapidly and indiscriminately.
“It was just rapid firing,” she said. “I could see him shooting in just every direction. He wasn’t aiming at anyone specifically. It was just left to right, right to left.”
“He definitely was prepared for what he was doing,” she added.
Gilroy is about 30 miles east of San Jose, California. The garlic festival is one of the largest food festivals in the United States. It was in its final day when the shooting occurred. The festival raises funds for charity.
Here are the names of the victims:
Stephen Romero was just 6 years old when he died during the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival July 28, 2019. The boy, who was from San Jose, was with his mother and grandmother, who were also injured. His mother was shot in the stomach and hand. Both women were expected to survive.
Romero’s grandmother told KRON 4 he was a happy boy.
“There’s no words to describe, because he was such a happy kid,” she said. “I don’t think that this is fair.”
Romero had recently celebrated his sixth birthday at Legoland.
A GoFundMe for the family raised nearly half of its $50,000 goal in 15 hours.
The fundraisers said they “support our community through these events and are heartbroken for the senseless acts of violence today in our city. We are mourning with the Romero family in loss of Stephen their 6 year old.”
The page said it raised its goal to help pay hospital bills for Romero’s mother, who remains hospitalized.
Read the full tribute on Stephen Romero here.
Keyla Salazar was a 13-year-old girl who was killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. She was one of the three victims identified. Salazar was from San Jose, California.
A GoFundMe was started to raise funds for her family.
“South County CDJR would appreciate your support as another young child’s life has been taken away at 13 years Kayla Salazar, by senseless act of violence at our local yearly city event Gilroy Garlic Festival,” the page said. “Many of our staff and employees are apart of Gilroy community and we support this event yearly. We are in direct contact with Kaylas family also. Please share with others; together we can help with this heartbreaking loss. All monies will go directly into parents account.”
Read the full tribute on Keyla Salazar here.
Trevor Irby was a 2017 graduate of Keuka College. He was 25.
Irby graduated with a biology degree. Keuka College is a liberal arts college located in Keuka Park, New York, which is about one hour southeast of Rochester, New York.
“The College community today mourns Trevor Irby, a biology major who graduated in 2017. Our hearts go out to Trevor’s family and loved ones. We are shocked that this latest episode of senseless gun violence resulted in the loss of one of our recent graduates—graduates in whom we place so much hope because of their potential to create a brighter tomorrow,” College President Amy Storey said in a statement.
He was attending the festival with his girlfriend, Sarah Warner. She escaped uninjured. Warner also graduated from Keuka College.
“We also send sincere condolences to College alumna Sarah Warner, who was with Trevor at the California garlic festival where the shooting took place. We were relieved to learn that Sarah was not physically injured in the shooting. We offer our support and prayers to Sarah and her family,” the statement said.
Read more about Trevor Irby here.