At least one gunman opened fire Sunday at Northern California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival, killing at least three and injuring 15, before being fatally shot by police stationed nearby who responded in less than a minute after the initial shot was fired, a police official said.
The shooting rampage began at 5:41 p.m. on the north side of the festival, Chief of Police Scot Smithee said at a press conference late Sunday.
Smithee said the gunman gained access to the festival by cutting through a fence near a creek area. He said some witnesses reported a second suspect, but police could not immediately confirm those reports.
A manhunt was underway to find a possible second suspect. It was not immediately clear if there were two shooters.
NBC Bay Area reported that a 6-year-old boy, Steven Romero, was among the victims.
“He had his whole life to live,” Alberto Romero, the boy’s father, said. “He was only six.”
Ryan Wallace, a witness, told the channel that he watched the gunman—who was almost dressed like a police officer—raise his gun up and started to “spray rounds.” The gunman walked through the crowd, he said.
“He wanted to get stuff done,” he said. “It was horrifying.”
“It’s sort of a nightmare that you hope to never have to live in reality, but we find ourselves in the circumstances where we have to live it today,” Smithee said.
Personal videos posted to Twitter appeared to show large crowds evacuating the festival. Many witnesses said the shots sounded like fireworks and there was confusion. The first shots were fired near an amphitheater, one witness said.
One witness told KTVU that he heard what he believed was 30 rounds. Some witnesses said the gunman was in army fatigues.
The San Francisco Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was responding to the scene, officials said. Smithee said dozens of officers are at the scene investigating.
The band Tin Man was just starting an encore when shots rang out.
Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle. Van Breen and other members of the band dove under the stage. Van Breen says he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this? “and the reply: “because I’m really angry. “
His bandmate Vlad Malinovsky from Walnut Creek, California, said he heard a lot of shots and then it stopped. Later, law enforcement came by and told the band members and others hiding with them to come out with their hands up.
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.
Natalie Martinez, a Gilroy Resident, told the Mercury News that she had gone to get food and separated from her two daughters. “I ran to find the girls . and we basically ran into each other. I thought, We’re open prey. It was awful.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report