Four people were killed, including the suspected gunman, in a shooting at a garlic festival in California, Gilroy Police Chief Scott Smithee said on Monday.
Fifteen more were injured, including some who suffered gunshot wounds, although the number of those shot was not immediately clear.
“It’s just incredibly sad and disheartening that at an event that does so much good the community had to suffer from a tragedy like this,” said Smithee, chief of police in the city of Gilroy, near San Jose.
The gunman appeared to have cut through a fence to get into the annual Garlic Festival. He may have had one accomplice, Smithee added.
“The hearts of Gilroy PD and entire community go out to the victims of today’s shooting at the Garlic Festival,” the local police department tweeted.
NBC News reported that there were at least five victims of the shooting, which took place at one of the largest food festivals in the country, which is held about 48 kilometers southeast of San Jose.
At least five people were also hospitalized, a hospital spokeswoman said.
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.
Witnesses to the shooting about 5:30 p.m. described the confusion and panic at the scene, the Mercury News reported.
Evenny Reyes of Gilroy, 13, told the newspaper that spent the day at the Gilroy Garlic Festival with her friends and 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,” Reyes said. “There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out.”
Reyes said that she didn’t run at first because the gunshots sounded like fireworks. “It started going for five minutes, maybe three. It was like the movies - everyone was crying, people were screaming.”
Todd Jones, a sound engineer, told the newspaper that he was at the front of the festival’s Vineyard stage when he heard what sounded like a firework. “But then it started to increase, more rapidly, which sounded more like gunfire, and at that point people realized what was happening,” Jones said.
Video first posted on social media sites about 5:30 p.m. showed people running for safety at the festival.
Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene of the shooting.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a nationally known three-day event that attracts thousands of garlic lovers. Sunday was the final day of the festival.
The Gilroy Police Department on its Twitter account issued a statement saying: “The hearts of Gilroy PD and entire community go out to the victims of today’s shooting at the Garlic Festival. The scene is still active. If you are looking for a loved one, please go to the reunification center at Gavilan College at parking lot B.”
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