A gunman killed at least three people and injured at least 15 more after opening fire Sunday at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, law enforcement officials said.
A suspect was also shot and killed by officers, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said during a news conference Sunday night. Smithee said the shooter appeared to cut through a fence to gain entry to the festival before opening fire. The gunman was killed by authorities “less than a minute” after he began shooting using some kind of a rifle.
Smithee said a second individual may have been involved in the shooting in some way, but that authorities had no one else in custody.
“I have no idea what the motive is at this point,” he added, calling the event a “nightmare.”
Officials said the scene would be subject to an active investigation “for some time.”
ASSOCIATED PRESS Police stay focused on a target after a deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, on Sunday.
“I would ask for the thoughts and prayers for our community as our police officer continue to investigate this tragic and senseless crime,” Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco said during the news conference. “We plan on being out here all night.”
The shooting began around 5:40 p.m. local time, toward the end of the final day of the festival, officials said.
A band called Tin Man had just begun its encore performance when the shooting began, according to The Associated Press. Members of the band told the outlet they dove under the stage for protection and heard several gunshots.
Videos posted on social media show festivalgoers running en masse toward the exits as loud pops ring out in the background.
One eyewitness told NBC Bay Area that he had been leaving the event when he felt a bullet whiz past his head.
#BREAKING: Gilroy police have confirmed an active shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. We are working to provide you more details on this breaking news, stay tuned. [Warning: Video has profanity. Courtesy @wavyia]#breaking #breakingnews #gilroy #gilroygarlicfestival pic.twitter.com/Bq44nIf1Ey
— KSBW Action News 8 (@ksbw) July 29, 2019
Miquita Price told the station she was with three family members at the festival when she heard shots fired.
“We hid under a utility truck,” she said. “We used that for shelter.”
She described running away from the scene with a handful of people, including one woman Price said had been “shot in the neck.”
— niah ㊝ (@wavyia) July 29, 2019
Brian Bowe, executive director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, described the event as a “family reunion” for the community, and said he was heartbroken by the shooting.
“Gilroy is an amazing community, a tight community; we are family,” Bowe said during the news conference Sunday night. “We have the wonderful opportunity in this community to celebrate our family through our garlic festival. It is such a sad, horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of this year’s festival.”
More than a dozen ambulance and fire department units had been dispatched in response to the shooting, reported the San Francisco Chronicle, citing a Cal Fire website.
Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also responding to the scene, according to The Associated Press.
Gilroy Police said in a statement Sunday evening that people looking for friends and family should head to the reunification center at parking lot B at Gavilan College.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the incident Sunday evening, advising people in the area to stay safe.
Law Enforcement is at the scene of shootings in Gilroy, California. Reports are that shooter has not yet been apprehended. Be careful and safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom also responded to the incident on Twitter. Newsom called the shooting “nothing short of horrific.”
“Tonight, [California] stands with the Gilroy community,” the governor wrote. “My office is monitoring the situation closely. Grateful for the law enforcement’s efforts and their continued work as this situation develops.”
Grateful to first responders who are on the scene in Gilroy and keeping those injured by such senseless violence in my thoughts. My office is closely monitoring the situation. https://t.co/dXoEvP1cqB
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) July 29, 2019
This is nothing short of horrific. Tonight, CA stands with the Gilroy community. My office is monitoring the situation closely. Grateful for the law enforcement’s efforts and their continued work as this situation develops. https://t.co/GrtHjtCEz7
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 29, 2019
Gilroy, which lies about 80 miles from San Francisco, is home to some 60,000 people. The garlic festival began in 1979 and draws nearly 100,000 people annually.
The three-day garlic festival, which is hosted by community volunteers and held at Gilroy’s Christmas Hill Park, raises money for local schools, charities and nonprofit organizations, according to the event’s website.
Sanjana Karanth and Saba Hamedy contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Please back for updates.