Monday, July 29, 2019

The 2019 Garlic Festival Shooting -- We Do Not Live In A Protective Bubble


The gunman who opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28th, 2019, killing 3 and injuring 12, was identified by law enforcement as 19-year old Santino William Legan of Gilroy. Legan was fatally shot by sheriff deputies on Sunday after he opened fire at the very crowded festival in Santa Clara County.

When I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I used to go to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. While this incident is obviously an extreme, I can tell you that violence at the Gilroy Garlic Festival is not a new security concern for them. As far back as the 1990s, and probably before that, that event saw problems with fights and even stabbings.

I was there in 1993 when one stabbing took place. Right after that happened, the event's security along with the police made a walk through and cleared the entire event of everyone there. They closed it down. The same day of the stabbing, I witnessed more than 3 fights. It became a very rowdy atmosphere where fights happen all the time. In the 6 or 8 times that I went there, there were always fights.

While I have not been back to the Garlic Festival since 2000, the problems that the event has stems from the availability of alcohol, people getting drunk and high from the use of marijuana, and the presence of rival gangs.

As for their security at the time, the event employed private security and had armed Gilroy city police and sheriff deputies on hand. Again, if memory serves me right, they used the private security for the entrances and exits, at key locations, while armed police officers and deputies were on horseback and walking patrols. These days, metal detectors are located at the entrances.

Security for any event such as a festival are usually put in place to prevent "expected" situations. While the worse case scenarios are looked at, available resources dictate that only so many precautions can be taken. What I mean by that is this, one attempts to predict the worse case scenario within reason using available resources. I'm willing to bet that no one, not the festival's security coordinator or the sheriff's department, anticipated a gunman circumventing the festival’s security by entering from a creek area and cutting through a fence.

For me, I believe the motives of such an insane individual attempting to do such a horrible act actually mean almost nothing because I know that such individuals cannot be stopped before they carry out their plan. Unless someone knowledgeable of the perpetrator's plan comes forward and actually informs on the person before carrying out the act, the police are always a reactive security element.

While the police concern themselves with motive to see if others are involved, let's make no mistake about this, this perpetrator knew the security in place and planned his attack by circumventing security measures. Also, it is important to note that the availability of armed sheriff deputies and city police, law enforcement, did not stop the perpetrator from carrying out his plan. Since the perpetrator had planned his attack with his targets in mind long before this last weekend, armed police officers did not deter the perpetrator from carrying out his plan.

While we know that the gunman who murdered those innocent people went through a lot of trouble to get around security measures in place there, we know that increased security from years past and the presence of armed officers didn't stop his intent to commit murder. But there is something else that we should note. Even if he did not cut his way into the event through a fence, the perpetrator could have gotten into the event circumventing security through a number of other ways.

For example, if he were with any of the many many merchants and vendors there, including part of the food vendors, he could have been allowed in and staged a weapon or had a weapon on him at any time. He could have been part of entertainment. He even could have been part of the security detail itself. Point is that we have no idea who is capable of doing such an insane act. And sadly, it could be anyone.

Because we do not live our lives in a protective bubble, along with our security measures, we have to trust that not everyone out there is insane and out to kill us.

Tom Correa

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