GILROY, Calif. (KRON) — An event to remember the victims, honor heroes, and reflect on pain and healing from the Gilroy Garlic Festival tragedy is being held Tuesday in Christmas Hill Park.
The event, “Rising Together,” is happening exactly one year after a 19-year-old man used an assault rifle to indiscriminately fire into the festival’s crowd.
“You can’t ever erase what happened. It’s like a wound. It’s a deep wound. And while a wound heals, it leaves a scar. There will always be this scar in Gilroy,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen told KRON4.
Three victims were killed, including a 6-year-old boy, and 19 more victims were wounded before Gilroy Police Department officers sprinted toward the gunman and shot him several times. The FBI’s domestic terrorism investigation is still ongoing.
“Rising Together” will be livestreamed for the public to watch, beginning at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Q&A with District Attorney Jeff Rosen
QUESTION: What have we learned from the investigation over the past year? Have new facts come to light? Has a possible motive been determined at this point for the gunman, Santino William Legan?
ANSWER: “The FBI is continuing to investigate this case as an act of domestic terrorism. They have not completed their investigation. What we do know is the shooter targeted the Gilroy Garlic Festival. He (sneaked) into the garlic festival in order to shoot and kill as many people as he could.
He arrived wearing a bullet proof vest, body armor, and an AK-47, and had many high-capacity rounds of ammunition. He was prepared to cause mass casualties. He killed or injured 20 people, including men and women, boys and girls. And would have killed or injured dozens and dozens more if not for the heroic acts of three Gilroy police officers, who within a minute, ran towards where the shooting was coming from, engaged the shooter, fired at the shooter, hit the shooter multiple times, causing the shooter to then turn the gun on himself and kill himself.”
QUESTION: You will be honoring three police officers at the event for their heroism. Are you able to tell me who those police officers are?
ANSWER: “Absolutely. The names of the three heroic police officers from the Gilroy Police Department are: Det. Eric Cryar, Officer Robert Basuino and Officer Hugh Del Moral. On July 28, at the site of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, it will be my incredible honor to give a medal of valor … in recognition of the tremendous heroism they showed, and the countless lives they saved by running toward the gunfire and bringing the killing to a halt.”
QUESTION: Will the victims be speaking as well?
ANSWER: “Yes. Many … will be speaking and sharing their pain. This kind of tragedy has become all too familiar in our country. There are many things we are trying to do to help the Gilroy community heal. Marking this 1 year anniversary is one way of continuing a painful process of healing.
We (created) a resiliency center that provides counseling and art therapy and different ways for people to work through their trauma. There are hundreds of people that were affected by this tragedy. One thing that is interesting Amy is there is somewhat of a connection in America between communities that have experienced mass trauma, mass casualty, like what happened in Gilroy. About a week about the horrible shooting in Gilroy, my office began to receive letters from other communities in America who had been the scenes of mass casualties, asking us to give these letters to the victims of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I have a stack of these letters. Many are from the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, who a few months prior to the Gilroy shooting, were also the victims of a mass shooting. They wrote us letters addressed to the families of the victims who died in Gilroy. We provided those letters to the victims’ families. It’s a very emotional thing.”
QUESTION: What message would you like to give to the community of Gilroy, so Gilroy can continue to recover from this unthinkable tragedy?
ANSWER: “Gilroy is a very strong and tight-nit community. It’s very unfortunate that because of the coronavirus, we are not able to have the garlic festival this year. But I am confident that we will have it next year. (The festival) is a tremendous source of pride for the people that live in Gilroy
and the surrounding communities. I think after a horrible tragedy like has happened, a community can either fray apart, or it can come together. What I have seen is the Gilroy community come together with lots of partners. So many groups and organizations. The Red Cross, behavioral services, the FBI unit, many groups came together. Within 24 hours of this horrible shooting, we stood up a family assistance center in Gilroy to provide immediate assistance to victims of this shooting, including counseling, food, help finding a place to stay, help getting their things back.”
“When this shooting happened, hundreds of people fled and left all kinds of personal property that was then gathered up. So really a special thanks to (superintendent) Deborah Flores from the Gilroy Unified School District who gave us Rucker Elementary School to set up a family assistance center…
to immediately begin providing services. There has been a strong network of support within the Gilroy community, and outside. I am confident as time goes on, that the community will continue to get stronger. You can’t ever erase what happened. It’s like a wound. It’s a deep wound. And while a wound heals, it leaves a scar. There will always be this scar in Gilroy.”
QUESTION: Will we never know that exact motive?
ANSWER: “I don’t know if we will ever know the true motive. But we do know it was a deliberate and intentional act aimed to kill as many people as possible. While I don’t know if the motives were racial, or anti government, or anti police, or anti Latino, I have no idea what those motives were. I can say it was deliberate and international and designed to kill as many people as possible. The goal was to kill for as many people as possible but for the heroic police actions of three Gilroy police officers.”
Irby was a native of Romulus, New York, and he had recently moved to Santa Cruz. He graduated in 2017 from Keuka College, where he majored in biology and was a multi-sport athlete. His father described him as a perfect son.
Her family said, “She was a girl who loved science and technology, creating ingenious videos, making everyone laugh. Her greatest hope was to pursue a career in animation, designing and creating characters and stories.”
Stephen was a happy and outgoing kid who loved comic books, dressing up as Batman, and listening to music by The Weeknd, according to his family.