Festival shooting claims 2 children, 25-year-old man
GILROY, Calif. — Three young people died when a gunman opened fire at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival in California this past weekend. Two were children — a teen who may have saved a relative’s life and a 6-year-old who was a sharp dresser — and the third was a 25-year-old New York college graduate who loved sports.
Here’s what we know about the victims so far:
The 6-year-old died at a hospital after he was shot in the back.
The boy’s father, Alberto Romero, told the San Jose Mercury News that he was at home in San Jose when his wife called to say that she, her mother and their son had been shot.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening, that what she was saying was a lie, maybe I was dreaming,” he said.
He rushed to the hospital to see his son.
“They told me he was in critical condition and that they were working on him,” he said. “Five minutes later, they told me he was dead.”
The boy was described by his grandmother as a kind, happy and playful kid who had just celebrated his birthday in June at Legoland in Southern California.
Stephen was called “El Romantico” by his uncle because of his good manners, his pressed, button-down shirts and his love of ballads by his favorite singer, The Weeknd.
“He wouldn’t leave the house unless he had cologne on,” Noe Romero told the San Francisco Chronicle.
He described the boy as “a very outgoing kid, very loving.”
The boy’s cousin is San Jose City Council member Maya Esparza, who said on Facebook she was “angry, so angry.” She added, “This violence has to stop.”
The 13-year-old from San Jose may have inadvertently saved a family member’s life at the cost of her own, her aunt said.
The teenager was eating ice cream with her parents, two younger sisters and other family members when they heard what they thought were fireworks but then realized were gunshots, Katiuska Vargas said.
The family started to run away but Keyla stayed back to keep pace with her stepfather’s mother, who uses a cane, and was wounded.
“If Keyla hadn’t been there, her stepfather’s mother would have been shot,” Vargas said.
Keyla’s stepfather was also wounded as he went back for her, Vargas said.
Vargas, who lives in San Francisco, drove to Gilroy to help Keyla’s mother find out where the teenager was taken for treatment.
“We drove to every hospital multiple times,” she said.
Her father later received word that Keyla had died at a hospital.
“There are no words to describe the pain,” Vargas said.
Her aunt described Keyla as a hard-working student who loved drawing and video games and wanted to become an animator.
She loved animals and was planning on getting a puppy for one of her sisters, Vargas said.
“She was such a caring person,” Vargas said. “She would give everything to other people … We lost a really beautiful life.”
The 25-year-old was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan with a broad smile who majored in biology and graduated in 2017 from Keuka College in upstate New York, where he grew up.
He lived in the tiny town of Romulus, northwest of New York City.
Dionna Williams, Irby’s aunt, posted a photo online of her grinning nephew wearing a graduation cap and gown.
“My nephew was one of the victims of the Gilroy Festival in California,” Williams wrote. “Please pray for our family. RIP Trevor.”
Pictures on Irby’s Facebook page show him decked out in Steelers garb with his arm around his girlfriend, Sarah Warner.
Warner, also a Keuka alumnus, was with Irby at the festival and wasn’t hurt, college President Amy Storey said.
“We are shocked that this latest episode of senseless gun violence resulted in the loss of one of our recent graduates — graduates in whom we place so much hope because of their potential to create a brighter tomorrow,” Storey said in a statement.
Irby graduated in 2012 from Romulus High School.
“Trevor was a multi-sport athlete, member of the drama club, band and friend to everyone he knew here in Romulus,” school officials said in a statement. “Trevor was the type of student who could bring joy, laughs, and comfort to everyone he met.”
“This is heartbreaking,” Keuka alum Samantha Napolitano wrote.
Keuka College is planning a memorial for Irby at the campus that’s about 70 miles (113 kilometers) southwest of Syracuse, New York.