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‘Heard the Loud ‘Pops’: Rep. Lipinski Recounts Shooting at California Garlic Festival

Three people were killed, including a 6-year-old boy, and 12 others were injured in the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, authorities said

What to Know

  • A 6-year-old boy is among three victims killed by a gunman who opened fire Sunday in Gilroy
  • The boy was at the Gilroy Garlic Festival with his mother and grandmother, both of whom were injured in the shooting
  • The family events is a decades-old staple of the Gilroy community featuring food, cooking contests and music

Congressman Dan Lipinski and his wife were at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, when a gunman opened fire, killing three people over the weekend, he wrote on social media Monday, calling the event "frightening."

"The shooter was not far from us as we heard the loud 'pops,' which seemed to get closer as we ran," he wrote. "We are very thankful to law enforcement. The tragedy would have been far worse if not for their quick action." 

Three people were killed, including a 6-year-old boy, and 12 others were injured in the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, authorities said. 

"My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6," Alberto Romero told NBC Bay Area outside the hospital after learning his 6-year-old had passed away. "That's all I can say."

A 13-year-old girl and man in his 20s were the other victims who were fatally shot, police said Monday.

"Any time a life is lost, it's a tragedy," said Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee. "But when it's young people, it's even worse."

The shooter also is dead. Authorities say he used a rifle and gained entry to the packed festival by cutting through a fence to avoid the tight security, including metal detectors, police said.

The wounded were taken to multiple hospitals, and their conditions ranged from fair to critical, with some in surgery Sunday night. At least five were treated and released.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival features food, cooking contests and music. It's a decades-old staple in the agricultural city of 50,000 about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco. Security is tight -- festival-goers pass through metal detectors and their bags are searched.

On Sunday, the band TinMan was starting an encore with the song "We're an American Band" when the shooting started.

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, from nearby Santa Clara, said he heard someone shout: "Why are you doing this?" and the reply: "Because I'm really angry."

Lipinski said he and his wife were OK following the shooting, adding "we pray for those killed and injured, and for their families."

"The level of gun violence in our nation is sickening," he wrote. "It is an issue we must deal with not only legislatively, but spiritually and socially." 

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