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  • Emergency personnel work at the scene of a mass shooting during the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, U.S. July 28, 2019.

    Emergency personnel work at the scene of a mass shooting during the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, U.S. July 28, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 July 2019
Opinion

Progressive Democrats condemned the shooting calling for immediate gun law reforms saying that it is the 246th shooting in 2019 alone.

A gunman killed at least three people including a 6-year-old boy, in a mass shooting at a food festival in California Sunday before being shot dead by police.

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The shooter has been identified as 19-year-old Santino William Legan and police were hunting for a second person Monday they believed was involved in the killings.

Progressive Democrats condemned the shooting, calling for immediate gun law reforms saying that it is the 246th shooting in 2019 alone. 

The 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held the U.S. gun lobby accountable for the shooting, reiterating comments he had made in past also. In June, after the Virginia Beach shooting, Sanders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar held the National Rifle Association (NRA) accountable for gun violence

He wrote on Twitter, “This is sickening to wake up to. Our corrupt political system, which is controlled by the gun lobby, has a lot of waking up to do. When our children are being shot in places that should be safest, we're failing. Let's get serious about gun control.”

Some 15 people were wounded during the mass shooting at the three-day Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California, some of them hurt in the crush of bystanders trying to flee, police said.

Police reached the scene within a minute of the first shots ringing out at 5:45 p.m. local time and officers shot and killed the gunman moments later, according to Scot Smithee, who heads the Gilroy Police Department.

A second person, "was involved in some way, we just don't know in what way," Smithee said late on Sunday. "We have no idea of a motive.”

Smithee said the gunman had cut through a fence to get into the annual Garlic Festival in Gilroy, 30 miles (48 km) southeast of the city of San Jose.

United States President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, "Law Enforcement is at the scene of shootings in Gilroy, California. Reports are that shooter has not yet been apprehended. Be careful and safe!"

People on social media slammed Trump for a half-hearted response to the shooting and asked him to stop attacking Bernie Sanders during this time. ​​​​​​​

Footage uploaded to social media appeared to show festival attendees scattering in fear and confusion as loud popping sounds could be heard in the background.

"What's going on?" a woman can be heard asking in one video. "Who'd shoot up a garlic festival?"

Aerial footage showed the festival grounds deserted but with many emergency and police vehicles on surrounding streets and police in bullet-proof gear.

"It's just incredibly sad and disheartening that at an event that does so much good for the community had to suffer from a tragedy like this," Smithee said.​​​​​​​

One video posted on Twitter showed a blood-spattered woman sitting in the back of a semi-trailer and telling a man she had been shot in the hand.

Stagehand Shawn Viaggi told local media he heard gunshots and saw bullets hitting the ground. "I called out, 'It's a real gun, let's get out of here,' and we hid under the stage," Viaggi told the newspaper, adding that he saw police officers trying to resuscitate one man.

Founded in 1979, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual event run by volunteers and held outdoors at Christmas Hill Park.

Weapons of any kind are prohibited, according to the event's website, which also said anyone wearing clothing or paraphernalia indicating membership in a gang, including a motorcycle club, would be refused entry.​​​​​​​

"I want to express my extreme shock and sadness about what's happened today," said Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco at a late-night press conference. "I would ask for the thoughts and prayers of the community as our Gilroy police officers continue to investigate this tragic and senseless crime."

Gun violence has been on the rise in the U.S., especially school shootings. According to data by the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, there were 94 cases of gun violence in schools in 2018, a record high since 1970.

In 2017, there were 39,773 gun deaths, another record high since 1968 according to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Progressives have criticized weak gun control laws which result in such violence. The NRA, a powerful gun lobby in the U.S., has also been criticized for promoting weapons, encouraging people to buy arms and also having an influence in U.S. politics.​​​​​​​

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