Gilroy Garlic Festival: 100,000 people attend the food festival every year in the Californian city that is called the 'Garlic Capital of the World'
The shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday killed 3 and injured at least 15, with authorities now investigating the motive behind the crime
GILROY, CALIFORNIA: Three people, including a six-year-old boy, were killed and at least 15 got injured after a gunman opened fire on a crowd at Northern California's popular Gilroy Garlic Festival on the closing day on Sunday evening.
Officers from the Gilroy Police Department responded to the scene within a minute of the shooting and killed the gunman, according to police chief Scott Smithee.
While his identity has not yet been revealed, witnesses described the gunman as a "tall, thin young man in camouflage with a big gun," who was seemingly targeting festival-goers indiscriminately.
Meanwhile, police were searching on Monday for a suspected accomplice of the gunman, Reuters reported. A second suspect “was involved in some way, we just don’t know in what way,” Smithee said late on Sunday, without giving further details.
The festival boasts of very tight security, with revelers having to pass through bag searches and metal detectors before they are allowed to enter. Smithee said the gunman had bypassed the checks and had entered into the site through a fence that borders the parking lot next to a creek.
He called the scene at the festival a "nightmare you hope you never have to live". Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom has praised the quick police response and called the massacre "nothing short of horrific."
But what made the Garlic Festival such an attractive target? One major reason could be the significance of the event and the large crowds it pulls every year.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual three-day event in July that attracts more than 100,000 people every year. Founded in 1979, the festival features food, drink, live entertainment, and cooking competitions. It says it is hosted by volunteers and describes itself as "the world’s greatest summer food festival," a Reuters report said.
Gilroy is an agricultural city of 50,000 located about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco. It is more than 60 percent Hispanic, according to The Statistical Atlas. Nearly 25 percent of the Gilroy population was born outside of the United States, with the majority of those born in Latin America.
The city has come to be popularly dubbed as the 'Garlic Capital of the World.'
In what can only be described as an ode to that moniker, the most popular attraction of the festival is the Gourmet Alley, a gigantic outdoor kitchen where the world-famous 'Pyro Chefs' "put on a spectacular flame-up show while preparing garlic-laced calamari and scampi in huge iron skillets."
Other festival favorites include the Gilroy garlic fries and garlic bread.
The festival also attracts its fair share of big names.
James Beard Award-winning chef and 'Top Chef' judge Tom Colicchio, 'Real Housewives' star Teresa Giudice, 'MasterChef Season' 9 Winner Gerron Hurt, and Chef Eddie G. from 'The Great Food Truck Race' all appeared live during the festival.
As it was with previous iterations, this year's event also saw several artists take the stage for performances.
Two-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat appeared with her new band Gone West, with multi-platinum singer-songwriter Jason Reeves, four-time Hawaii Music Award Winner Justin Kawika Young, and ACM and CMT nominated artist Nelly Joy also performing.
Country artists King Calaway, Waterloo Revival, and Caylee Hammack were amongst the acts as well.
The crowds who go to the event are mostly families as the festival has a number of strict rules where they refuse admission to anyone wearing clothing or paraphernalia indicating or signifying membership in a gang, including a motorcycle club. Alcohol is banned within the premises as well.
However, this not the first time that a shooter has targeted such an occasion.
The deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the history of the country unfolded in 2017 at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.
Stephen Paddock, 64, fired more than 1,100 rounds on the crowd of concertgoers from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 58 and injuring another 422. After more than a year-and-a-half later, the FBI concluded there was "no single or clear motivating factor" behind the killing spree.
The motive for the Garlic Festival Shooting is similarly unclear. But singer Jack Van Breen, whose band TinMan was playing on stage when the shooting unfolded, said he heard someone shout, "Why are you doing this?" to which the reply came, "Because I'm really angry."
Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco has urged for the public's support of the investigation. "I would ask for the thoughts and prayers of the community as our Gilroy police officers continue to investigate this tragic and senseless crime," he said.