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Gunman Kills Three, Including 6-year-old, at California Festival

2019-7-29

Authorities said a gunman armed with an “assault-style rifle” appeared to randomly target people at a food festival in Gilroy, California. The man shot and killed three people and injured at least 12 others before police shot him dead on Sunday.

Among the dead was six-year-old Stephen Romero. His father Alberto Romero told an NBC television station “My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6.” Romero added that his wife and his mother-in-law were among those injured in the attack.

Officials have not released the names of the other two victims, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s.

Gilroy police chief Scot Smithee identified the gunman as 19-year-old Santino William Legan. He said police had a command center at the event for security but the gunman cut through a fence to avoid metal detectors and other security measures.

The man then fired on a crowd eating and listening to music. The gun used in the attack was bought in the state of Nevada earlier this month.

Smithee said police responded within one minute and killed the suspect. It ended “very quickly," he said, “We had thousands of people there. It could have gone so much worse so fast.”

Some witnesses reported a second suspect. However, it is unclear if that person was carrying a weapon or provided aid to the gunman. Police are continuing their search for the other possible suspect.

People run as an active shooter was reported at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, south of San Jose, California, U.S., July 28, 2019 in this still image taken from a social media video. Courtesy of Twitter
People run as an active shooter was reported at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, south of San Jose, California, U.S., July 28, 2019 in this still image taken from a social media video. Courtesy of Twitter

Video that has spread on social media shows crowds of people running in fear and confusion as the sound of gunfire is heard. News reports say a teenage girl said she thought the gunfire was fireworks, but then saw an injured person.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival celebrates food, cooking and music and was established in 1979. The three-day festival attracts about 100,000 people. The town, known as the “garlic capital of the world,” is about 130 kilometers southeast of San Francisco.

The festival is operated by volunteers. It bars weapons of any kind and also bars signs associated with gangs.

I’m Mario Ritter Jr.

Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this report from AP and Reuters stories for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

authorities –n. persons in command; government officials

assault-style rifle –n. a large gun that can shoot many bullets but is not fully automatic

randomly –adv. done without a plan or pattern

festival –n. an often periodic celebration or program of events or entertainment having a specified focus

detector –n. a device for finding the presence of electromagnetic waves or of radioactivity

respond –v. to do something as a reaction to something that has happened or been done: to have a particular reaction to something

confusion –n. a situation in which people are uncertain about what to do or what is going on

associated –adj. related, connected, or combined together

gang –n. a group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends

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