A 19-year-old man opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, killing three people and wounding 12 others, police say. On Monday morning, authorities said a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s were killed after Santino William Legan — who was fatally shot by police — attacked the popular food festival in Santa Clara County with a gun purchased legally in Nevada.
“Any time a life is lost, it’s a tragedy,” Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said Monday. “But when it’s young people, it’s even worse. It’s very difficult.”
Here’s what we know about the slain victims so far.
Stephen Romero, 6, of San Jose
When gunfire erupted at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday afternoon, 6-year-old Stephen Romero was playing near a bounce house with his mother and grandmother.
When his mother, Barbara Aguirre, heard gunfire, she grabbed her son and began to run, according to Mario Ramos, 45, the family’s next-door neighbor of more than a decade, recounting a story the family had told him.
Aguirre was struck by two bullets: one in her hand, one in her stomach. Stephen was shot in his mother’s arms. The family believes Aguirre and her son were struck by the same bullet as she clutched him to her chest.
After she had been shot, Aguirre called her husband, Alberto Romero, who had stayed at home to study for an electrical exam and watch their 9-year-old daughter.
“They shot him,” she told her husband.
By the time Romero reached the hospital, Stephen was in critical condition. Minutes later, his son was dead, Ramos said.
Aguirre is still hospitalized. Stephen’s grandmother is being treated for a gunshot wound to the leg, Ramos said.
On his block in San Jose, Stephen was a friendly and familiar face, racing up and down the street and talking to anyone who passed his family’s corner lot. Neighbors often saw the boy outside the ranch house with the white porch, playing with the family’s French bulldog, Frankie, or climbing on the tire swing that hung from a tree out front.
The energetic 6-year-old had just graduated from kindergarten and would talk to anyone who would listen about how excited he was to start first grade in the fall, Ramos said.
“He was just a rambunctious little thing,” Ramos said. “He was so overly full of energy, running up and down the street. He didn’t care who you were. He just wanted to talk to anyone.”
Neighbors saw Stephen hanging out in the driveway, watching his dad tinker with cars. He also followed his grandfather around the yard as he tended the yellow, pink and red roses growing over the fence.
“He was such a vibrant little boy, full of energy and life,” Ramos said.
Steven Romero, the 6y/o who died in the #GilroyGarlicShooting, was a happy child. His uncle said they called him “el romántico” because he loved to wear pressed shirts and cologne. pic.twitter.com/upDBbsT96X— Gwendolyn Wu (@gwendolynawu) July 29, 2019
Romero told the San Jose Mercury News that his son was joyful and always wanted to play. Stephen’s grandmother, Maribel Romero, told ABC Channel 7 that Stephen was a loving boy who was “always kind, happy and playful.”
“I want justice for my grandson,” Romero said.
Gwendolyn Wu of the San Francisco Chronicle said in a tweet that she spoke with the boy’s uncle who said Romero loved to wear pressed shirts and cologne, earning him the nickname el Romántico.
Keyla Salazar, 13, of San Jose
Keyla Salazar, 13, was killed in the shooting, the Santa Clara County coroner’s office said Monday evening.
A woman who identified herself as Keyla’s aunt wrote on Facebook that the child died at the scene.
“We are all devastated and broken and need time to heal and process,” Katiuska Pimentel Vargas wrote.
He said the dealership donates to the garlic festival each year and had a booth there, but no employees were injured.
“We just had packed up our stuff and gotten out right before the shooting started,” he said.
“When things like this happen to small towns unexpectedly, we’ve got to make the best of what we can do with our sources and connections,” Mann said.
Trevor Irby, 25, of Romulus, N.Y.
Keuka College, a liberal arts school in New York, identified the oldest victim of the shooting as alumnus Trevor Irby of Romulus, N.Y.
Irby was a biology major who graduated in 2017, college President Amy Storey said in a statement Monday.
“We are shocked that this latest episode of senseless gun violence resulted in the loss of one of our recent graduates — graduates in whom we place so much hope because of their potential to create a brighter tomorrow,” Storey said.
Another recent graduate was with Irby at the festival but was not injured, she said.
A GoFundMe page was created for Irby’s memorial on Monday by organizers who said they were his best friends.
“Trevor was a brother, a son, a grandson, a boyfriend, a best friend and a bright light to all who knew him,” a post on the page said. “Trevor will forever live on in the memory of his loved ones.”
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