City officials and police personnel from Gilroy have asked people to avoid going into Christmas Hill Park, an active crime scene due to their ongoing investigation of a mass shooting at this year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival.
The Milpitas Police Department has personnel in Gilroy for the time being, as well — two officers at a time working 12-hour shifts. Per Santa Clara County protocol, when one agency requires support, surrounding agencies send it in. In this case, MPD officers are on perimeter control, meaning they’re tasked with keeping restricted persons (i.e., the general public) outside the operational area. According to MPD Captain Raj Maharaj, a Milpitas detective was also sent to Gilroy yesterday as part of a special task force, to assist in unspecified ways.
On Sunday, 4 people, including the shooter, were killed, and 12 others were injured. The armed assailant was gunned down by Gilroy police.
The shooter’s victims were Stephen Romero (age 6), who was the young cousin of San Jose Councilmember Maya Esparza, Keyla Salazar (13), and Trevor Irby (27). The shooter was a 19-year-old Gilroy male self-described as being of Iranian and Italian descent who posted a photo from the event to his Instagram account prior to beginning his spree. Leading up to the attack, he’d also recommended that his Instagram followers read a 19th-century book called “Might Is Right,” which is influential among white supremacists.
During the attack, witnesses heard the shooter yell that he was “very angry.”
Despite the book he referenced and the words he yelled, the shooter’s motives for firing at the crowd indiscriminately remain unclear. Meanwhile, despite a police presence complete with metal detectors at the event’s front entrance, the shooter was able to enter illegally by cutting through a fence aligning a parking lot. He’d purchased the semiautomatic assault rifle he used, a variant of the well-known AK-47, in Nevada, where people over 18 can legally buy guns (California sets the age restriction at 21).
According to some witnesses, a second assailant may have also been present. As of Monday morning, police were still looking for that person.
Witnesses can call in with tips at (408) 846-0583.
Authorities have also established a reunification site at Gavila College (5055 Santa Teresa Blvd, Gilroy, 95020). The telephone number related to that site is (408) 846-0584.
Surrounding the incident, the media began to point toward a second incident over at Gilroy’s Christopher High School. This turned out to be a rumor.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a proud annual tradition which last year drew some 80,000 attendees.
Per Milpitas Beat policy, we have not shared the shooter’s name.