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4 People Are Dead At California Festival: 1 Suspect And 3 Victims


The mass shooting in Gilroy, Calif. underlined how quickly such events unfold. A man with a rifle opened fire as a band played at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Police say they engaged and killed the suspect within one minute, yet that single minute was long enough for the gunman to kill three people. He also injured 15 people, many of them critically.

Gilroy Police Chief Scott Smithee says police are asking if the gunman operated alone.

SCOTT SMITHEE: We have some witnesses reporting that there may have been a second suspect, but we don't know if that suspect was engaged in any shooting or whether they may have been in some sort of a support role for the person that we have accounted for.

INSKEEP: Erika Mahoney of KAZU is covering this story. She's on the line. Good morning.


INSKEEP: What is the Gilroy Garlic Festival normally like?

MAHONEY: It's normally very festive, Steve. It's a big summer celebration. There's food. There's garlic ice cream. There's music. It's very family friendly.

INSKEEP: Oh, my goodness, I wish I was having a conversation with you about the garlic ice cream. But again - but instead, we have to discuss this tragic series of events. What was it like when you arrived at the festival this time?

MAHONEY: It was chaos. I actually landed at the reunification center. It was a parking lot at a nearby college, Gavilan College, actually set up by the festival organizers as an initial place where they could hop on the bus and go to the festival and come back. But after the shooting happened, it became the place where families and people attending the festival could find each other, get information about their victims. So again, very, very chaotic.

INSKEEP: What did people say about their experiences?

MAHONEY: People said that they felt Gilroy was a safe place. It's a small town. I did hear from one festival volunteer, Marsha Struzik, about what she did in those first few moments of the shooting. Take a listen.

MARSHA STRUZIK: Because I run the children's area, once I knew what was happening, I made sure that my vendors and my volunteers got the children and families out and safe. And then we made sure the rest of the festivalgoers were safe and corralled.

MAHONEY: People were concerned for each other's safety. And there are stories of people who were shielding others.

INSKEEP: And I believe there are reports that one of the victims is a 6-year-old, so hearing about the children's area - well, it's quite something. What is known about the victims?

MAHONEY: The wounded from the shooting were taken to multiple hospitals, and their conditions range, we're told, from fair to critical. Several of the victims were in surgery Sunday night. At least five have been treated and released, officials from the hospitals have told us.

Pretty early on, Stanford Medical Center reported having two patients from the shooting, but their spokeswoman didn't have very many details. As well as Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, they received five victims. She also didn't have very much information. We are expecting another briefing later this morning.

INSKEEP: OK, Erika, thanks so much.

MAHONEY: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Erika Mahoney of KAZU. And we should mention when she talks about a briefing, so much is unknown. It's very early here. We don't know the identity of the shooter. And there is some question, some question, about whether that shooter may have acted alone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Erika joined KAZU in 2016. Her roots in radio began at an early age working for the independent community radio station in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. After graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2012, Erika spent four years working as a television reporter. She’s very happy to be back in public radio and loves living in the Monterey Bay Area.