Gilroy joins grim fraternity of communities terrorized by mass shootings

Gilroy shooting
Two people stand outside the emergency entrance to St. Louise Regional Hospital on Sunday in Gilroy, Calif. A gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival earlier in the day.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Gilroy is the latest the city to join the grim roster of places to experience a mass shooting.

The Santa Clara County city of 58,000 — which calls itself the Garlic Capital of the World — was throwing its annual Garlic Festival when a gunman opened fire, killing three and injuring more than a dozen.

The violence left the city stunned.

“It is such a sad, just horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of the festival,” Brian Bowe, the executive director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, said at a Sunday night news conference. “And to have seen this event end this way this day is just one of the most tragic and sad things I have ever had to see.”


The violence immediately became a focus of mourning.

“This is nothing short of horrific,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “Tonight, California stands with the Gilroy community.”

The shooting comes less than a year since the massacre at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks and four years after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

Other communities in California to struggle through mass violence include Isla Vista (a rampage near UC Santa Barbara), Stockton (a school shooting), Oakland (a gunman opening fire at a college), Poway (a synagogue shooting) and Fullerton (a sniper at Cal State Fullerton).

A boy, 6, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s died in the shooting rampage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The gun used was recently purchased legally.

The Gilroy attack is expected to heighten gun control debates. California already has the toughest gun laws in the nation. On July 1, a new law went into effect requiring buyers of bullets to show identification and undergo a background check to screen out felons and people with illegal firearms. The new law closes a loophole in existing rules aimed at reducing illegal weapons, supporters say, while some gun owners say it goes too far in infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

“From San Bernardino to Ventura to Poway, too many Californians have already died from gun violence,” Newsom said regarding the law.

Here is a rundown of some mass shootings around the U.S. in the last few years, compiled by the Associated Press:

— May 31: A longtime city worker opened fire in a building that houses Virginia Beach, Va., government offices, killing 12 people and wounding six others.

— Feb. 15: Gary Martin killed five co-workers at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Ill., during a disciplinary meeting where he was fired. He wounded one other employee and five of the first police officers to arrive at the suburban Chicago plant before he was killed during a shootout with police.

— Nov. 7: Ian David Long killed 12 people at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks before taking his own life. Long was a Marine veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

— Oct. 27: Robert Bowers is accused of opening fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh during Shabbat morning services, killing 11 and injuring others. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

— June 28, 2018: A gunman whom authorities identified as Jarrod Ramos shot through the windows of the Capital Gazette offices in Annapolis, Md., before turning the weapon on employees there, killing five at the Capital newspaper. Authorities say Ramos had sent threatening letters to the newspaper before the attack.

— May 18, 2018: Dimitrios Pagourtzis began shooting during an art class at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. The 17-year-old killed eight students and two teachers, and 13 others were wounded. Explosives were found at the school and off campus. Pagourtzis survived and is facing trial in 2020.

All our stories of Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in one place

— Feb. 14, 2018: Nikolas Cruz is accused of shooting and killing 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It surpassed Columbine High School as the deadliest shooting at a high school in U.S. history.

— Nov. 5, 2017: Devin Patrick Kelley, who had been discharged from the Air Force after a conviction for domestic violence, used an AR-style firearm to shoot up a congregation at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing more than two dozen. Kelley was later found dead in his car nearby.

— Oct. 1, 2017: Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor music festival on the Las Vegas Strip from the 32nd floor of a hotel-casino, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500. SWAT teams with explosives then stormed his room and found he had killed himself.