This story was updated at 10:46 a.m. Pacific Time on Monday.
It’s extremely rare for tragedy to strike festivals or outdoor markets, where people gather to celebrate food and connect with farmers. The Gilroy Garlic Festival, which takes place in California and is one of the biggest festivals of its kind anywhere in the world, saw first-hand an unimaginable level of terror as a gunman carrying an assault-style rifle opened fire on people Sunday evening. As of Monday morning, four people were confirmed dead, including the shooter, and at least 15 people were injured. Authorities have said that they are continuing to search for a possible second suspect but that they have no leads on whether there was another person involved.
“It was frightening. There was blood everywhere. It, it was a mess. I’ve never seen nothing like that in my life,” eyewitness Miquita Price told CNN.
Police officers were on the scene quickly, and authorities said that three of the officers engaged the gunman and fatally wounded him.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the officers for being able to engage this guy as quickly as they did, because we had thousands of people there in a very small area,” Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said during a Monday news conference.
The shooter was identified by police as 19-year-old Santino William Legan. The gunman’s victims were identified as 6-year-old boy, a girl who was either 12 or 13, and a man in his 20s.
Multiple videos taken by festivalgoers show a scene of confusion and chaos as people screamed and ran or hid from the gunfire. One witness described the gunman as wearing a cap, sports sunglasses, and what appeared to military-style clothing.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement on Twitter, saying, “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.”
Federal, state, and local officials are still trying to sort through what happened — and why — as well as search for the possible second person involved. It’s unclear whether the event, which is often considered nothing short of a wholesome, family festival, had an evacuation plan for this kind of incident. The festival, which debuted in the late 1970s, draws thousands of people annually and is the pride of the small city of Gilroy.
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“It’s sort of a nightmare you hope you never have to live in reality,” Smithee said.