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6-year-old Stephen Romero was a ‘happy kid.’ He was shot and killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

Posted at 7:16 AM, Jul 29, 2019

Stephen Romero, 6, was killed during the shooting at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, Gilroy City Councilmember Fred Tovar tells CNN.

GILROY, Calif. — When Maribel Romero found out her 6-year-old grandson had been shot at a food festival in Northern California, she went from hospital to hospital looking for him.

Stephen Romero was a happy kid, she says.

“This is really hard, there’s no words to describe (it),” she told CNN affiliate KRON. “I don’t think this is fair.”

Stephen was among the three people killed Sunday evening when a gunman sneaked into the Gilroy Garlic Festival and began firing. Eleven others were injured at what was supposed to be a family-friendly event. About a hundred thousand people attend the decades-old festival each year, previous records show.

And collectively, the event has helped raise “millions of dollars for local schools, charities and non-profit organizations,” the festival’s website says.

Officers engaged with the suspect within one minute, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said. The suspect was also shot and killed.

‘We need to know … there’s justice’

Maribel Romero said Stephen’s grandmother and mother were also shot.

“I just wish that they get the people who did it,” she said. “We need to know that they got this person and that there’s justice.”

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said the shooter also was killed. He was shot and killed by officers who engaged him within one minute of the shooting, Smithee said. A manhunt is underway for a possible second suspect, Smithee said. That person’s role in the shooting is unclear, he said. Neither the shooter nor the second suspect have been identified.

The shooting occurred at the end of the final day of the festival, about 30 miles southeast of San Jose, sending people screaming as they tried to escape the chaos. Witnesses described pandemonium, with people running, hiding behind tents, crawling under tables or climbing fences to escape the gunfire.

Gilroy City Councilmember Fred M. Tovar told CNN early Monday he was saddened by the news of the child’s death.

“I pray that God will grant his family strength. My most sincere condolences. I will keep your family close in my thoughts and prayers in the coming weeks as you are going through the process of grieving,” he said in a statement.