‘Horrific tragedy’: One month after garlic festival shooting, Gilroy police chief reflects on lasting impact

Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

GILROY (KRON) — One month has passed since three people were killed and several others were injured in a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee reflected Wednesday on the events of July 28 and how residents in the town are moving forward by turning tragedy into resilience and hope.

“I think good things can come out of tragedies and I think that has happened here in the City of Gilroy,” Smithee said. “I think you see our entire community coming together and bonding and trying to do good.”

The police chief said the Gilroy Strong movement was present before the shooting — but now it’s stronger than ever.

The way residents have come together in the aftermath of the shooting and how they’re willing to help one another — that’s a positive outcome from the tragedy, Smithee said.

“It’s a horrific tragedy that occurred at the garlic festival and I don’t think we can ever lose sight of the victims, the three people that died or the people that were wounded and frankly, the people that were there and witnessed it,” Smithee said.

Three people, including two children, were killed when a gunman opened fire at the annual festival at Gilroy’s Christmas Hill Park.

More than a dozen other festival-goers were also injured.

The gunman entered the festival by cutting a fence.

Earlier this month, the Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office found the gunman, Santino Legan, 19, killed himself, despite earlier reports that officers fired the fatal shot.

Police believe the suspect was hit by officers’ gunfire before he turned his weapon on himself.

Despite the tragedy last month, the Gilroy Garlic Festival will go on, but not without some changes to security, Smithee said.

“We need to make sure the public feels secure and that they’re willing to come back and enjoy our festival,” Smithee said.

Smithee also reiterated the importance of not letting the shooting change how Gilroy residents live their lives.

“We can’t let a terrorist act by one individual change our lives and the way we do things,” Smithee said.

The shooting changed the town of Gilroy, the chief said, and it’s something he never expected to happen in his town.

“You plan for stuff like this from a law enforcement perspective, you train for it,” Smithee said. “I don’t think you ever really expect it’s going to happen in your town, especially a town like Gilroy.”

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