A six-year-old boy who was described as “always happy and always wanting to have fun” was among the victims when a gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California on Sunday afternoon.
At least three people were killed and twelve injured when the gunman, who was reportedly dressed in a military-style outfit and armed with an “assault-type” rifle, attacked the festival while the event was concluding.
According to police, the gunman entered the festival by cutting through a chain-link fence in order to avoid being searched prior to entry. Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said that officers stationed at the festival found and engaged the suspect in less than a minute. Smithee added that police were still looking for a second suspect, but are still unsure how they may have been involved.
“It’s just incredibly sad and disheartening that an event that does so much good for our community has to suffer from a tragedy like this,” Smithee said.
The FBI and ATF are assisting in the investigation. The alleged gunman has been identified by CBS News as Santino William Legan, 19, and police say they are still working to establish a motive.
Among the victims was Steven Romero, 6, who’d gone to the festival with his mother and grandmother. Alberto Moreno, Steven’s father, told NBC News that both the mother and grandmother had also been injured in the shooting — the former in the hand, the latter in the leg.
“There’s nothing I really can besides try to be with him until I can put him in his resting spot, wherever that is,” Alberto said. “My son had his whole life to live and he was only six. That’s all I can say.”
Presidential candidates were quick to condemn the attack. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called the attack “sickening” and added that it was a wakeup call for the “corrupt political system, which is controlled by the gun lobby.” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said that the Gillroy shooting was “simply horrific” and that “Our country has a gun violence epidemic that we cannot tolerate.” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) also both decried America’s gun violence epidemic.
Speaking from the Rose Garden and describing the attacker as a “wicked murderer,” President Trump also offered condolences. “We express our deepest sadness and sorrow for the families who lost a previous loved one in the horrific shooting in Gilroy, California,” Trump said. “We grieve for the families and ask that God comfort them.”
According to Mother Jones, there have been five incidents, including the Gilroy attack, this year which qualify as mass shootings (i.e. incidents where three or more people were killed by a single gunman). Prior to Gilroy the latest incident occurred in Virginia Beach in May, when a disgruntled city employee killed 12 and injured four at the municipal building where he worked. According to CNN, there have also been have also been 22 incidents this year when someone has been shot or killed at a school campus.