GILROY — Police are at the scene of an active shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, authorities said Sunday evening, with at least 3 people dead and 12 injured, according to the New York Times.
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has received two victims from the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and expects three more, spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said. She had no information on their conditions.Police responded to the festival grounds at Christmas Hill Park near Miller Avenue and Uvas Park Drive around 5:30 p.m., but few details of the shooting were immediately available.
As of 8:37 p.m., Gilroy Police said that the scene is still active and urged people to stay away from the scene.
The shooting began as the Gilroy Garlic Festival was winding down, and the band was playing their last act.
Tony Porrovecchio, 57, was walking past the Vineyard Stage, where a crowd gathered, some resting on hay bales, to watch the last performance.
Then Porrovecchio saw a man in green walk toward the crowd.
“At first I thought some idiot was setting off fireworks, but then we saw him,” Porrovecchio said. “Once he locked in on us, I ran.”
Daniel, 32, declined to give his full name but said he was sitting near the same performance stage. When the shooting started, the crowd began to scatter and Daniel dropped to the ground and crawled past some picnic tables, making his way to a refrigerated truck where about twenty other people were sheltered.
Two adult women who had been shot were also hiding in the trailer, and were later taken away by festival staff on a golf cart.
A spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Joy Alexiou, said the hospital is treating two victims of the shooting and expects three more, the Associated Press reported.
Shawn Viaggi, a stage hand, was also at the stage when he heard loud pops and saw bullets hit the ground.
“I called out, ‘it’s a real gun, let’s get out of here,’ and we hid under the stage,” said Viaggi, a stage hand who hid with other members of the crew.
They waited there for several minutes until they saw police, Viaggi said, and when he saw police attempting to resuscitate a man. Viaggi was evacuated with about 60 other people to Gilroy High School.
The festival, which closes at 6 p.m., was still full of people when the first shots were fired, according to witnesses, who described a chaotic scene with people hiding in coolers and underneath cars,
Evenny Reyes of Gilroy, 13, spent the day at the festival with her friends and some relatives.
“We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandana wrapped around his leg because he got shot. And there were people on the ground, crying,” said Reyes. “There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out.”
Reyes said she didn’t run at first, because the gunshots sounded like fireworks. The shooting lasted for what seemed like a few minutes. “It was like the movies — everyone was crying, people were screaming.”
Natalie Martinez, a longtime Gilroy Resident, had gone to get food and separated from her two daughters. “I ran to find the girls … and we basically ran into each other.”
“I thought, we’re open prey. It was awful.”
People were running so fast to escape that they were tripping and stumbling, Martinez said.They stopped to help an elderly woman who had fallen, then got outside the park and were standing in a parking area until police gave them the go-ahead to leave.
Martinez, who lives within walking distance of the festival grounds, finally heard from her husband, who was volunteering at Gourmet Alley and said he was fine. He told her that when those who were working in Gourmet Alley heard the shots, “Everybody dropped, or ran into coolers.”
As far as they had heard, the Gourmet Alley chefs were OK.
But Martinez was worried about the volunteers whose work shifts come at the festival’s end.
“There are crowds of Boy Scouts who show up for cleanup,” she said.
As of 6:40 p.m., Katherine Filice, who has headed the festival’s promotional effort for several years, said the PR team members were “all OK” but that she had no further information as the situation at Christmas Hill Park was still fluid.
People are being evacuated to Gilroy High School and Gavilan College, parking lot B, to reunite with family. Witnesses and people looking to reunite with family can call 408-846-0583.
The shooting occurred as the 41st annual event — one of the nation’s most famous food festivals — was wrapping up its three-day run. Besides drawing food lovers from around the country, the festival serves as Gilroy’s top fund-raiser for the year, with volunteers staffing the event to earn money for their clubs, schools and other nonprofit groups. Since 1979, the festival has raised more than $11.7 million for local nonprofits and schools.
Check back for updates.