The hunt is on for a possible accomplice in Sunday’s shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California that left three dead, including a six-year-old boy, after the gunman was killed by police.
The gunman, who has not been publicly identified, was shot minutes after he opened fire at people attending the three-day Gilroy Garlic Festival, about 48 kilometres southeast of of San Jose. As well as the six-year-old and two others who haven’t yet been named, 15 people were injured.
It was unclear how many people were shot or hurt in the crush of bystanders trying to flee, according to police. One person was in critical condition, a hospital spokesperson said.
A second suspect “was involved in some way — we just don’t know in what way,” Gilroy police Chief Scot Smithee said late Sunday, without giving further details. He also said police have recovered a rifle at the scene.
“We have no idea of a motive.”
The six-year-old was identified by his grandmother as Stephen Romero. In an interview with ABC7 News, Maribel Romero described her grandson as “a really loving boy.”
Her daughter-in-law and the boy’s other grandmother were also being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds, she said. “I want justice for my grandson,” Mirabel said.
Witness on Sunday described the scene where the gunman opened fire.
Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and greyish handkerchief around his neck shoot into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle. Van Breen and other members of the band dove under the stage.
Van Breen said he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” and the reply: “Because I’m really angry.”
Watch as people disperse from the festival as shots ring out:
The gunman cut through a fence to evade metal detectors and other security at the festival’s entrance, police said.
Footage uploaded to social media showed festival attendees scattering in fear and confusion as loud popping sounds could be heard in the background.
“What’s going on?” a woman can be heard asking on one video. “Who’d shoot up a garlic festival?”
‘Throwing tables’ to get out
Evenny Reyes, 13, told the San Jose Mercury News that at first she thought the gunfire was fireworks but then saw someone with a wounded leg.
“We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandana wrapped around his leg because he got shot,” Reyes told the newspaper. “There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out.”
Maximo Rocha, a volunteer with the Gilroy Browns youth football team, said he saw many people on the ground, but could not be sure how many were shot.
He told NBC Bay Area that “quite a few” were injured, “because I helped a few.”
One video posted on Twitter showed a blood-spattered woman sitting in the back of a semi-trailer and telling a man she had been shot in the hand.
Founded in 1979, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual event run by volunteers and held outdoors at Christmas Hill Park.
Weapons of any kind are prohibited, according to the event’s website, which also said anyone wearing clothing or paraphernalia indicating membership in a gang, including a motorcycle club, would be refused entry.
“I want to express my extreme shock and sadness about what’s happened today,” said Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco at a Sunday night news conference.
“I would ask for the thoughts and prayers of the community as our Gilroy police officers continue to investigate this tragic and senseless crime.”