‘Nothing short of horrific.’ Grief overflows online after Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting

News of a mass shooting Sunday evening at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California set off all-too-familiar shock waves online, with politicians, celebrities and activists posting their thoughts.

Four people died, including the gunman and 6-year-old Steven Romero, while 12 others were injured at the annual food festival 30 miles south of San Jose.

“This is nothing short of horrific,” wrote Gov. Gavin Newsom on Twitter. “Tonight, CA stands with the Gilroy community.”

“Law Enforcement is at the scene of shootings in Gilroy, California,” President Donald Trump posted to Twitter shortly after the news broke Sunday night. “Be careful and safe!”

By Monday morning, Trump had resumed his Twitter attacks on political rivals, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and others, prompting some to chide him for not saying more about the Gilroy shooting victims.

Speaking to reporters later Monday morning, Trump called the gunman “wicked” and said that the nation would “grieve” for the victims’ families and “ask that God comfort them.”

Several of the Democratic candidates for president also spoke out online about the shootings.

Activists in the gun violence debate also posted reactions.

“Heartbroken for Gilroy tonight. Too many people living this nightmare,” wrote Cameron Kasky, organizer of the March for Our Lives against gun violence.

“A 6-year-old. And too many lawmakers will do nothing in the wake of this tragedy because it’s easier to to make a baby stand up to a gunman than it is for them to stand up to a gun lobbyist,” wrote Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

In a statement, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords said her “heart is with the victims, their families, and friends.”

“We’re 210 days into 2019 and there have already been 246 mass shootings. Just this weekend alone, there were 7 reported mass shooting incidents,” Giffords said. “This reality is horrifying. It’s heartbreaking.”

“Police Chief says suspect entered thru a creek by the parking lot. The event is a weapons-free zone so seems like the suspect was trying to get around it,” wrote Dana Loesch, a former spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association.

Celebrities also took to Twitter to mourn the violence.

“Waking up to news of the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in CA,” wrote actor and activist George Takei on Twitter. “There are at least three dead, 15 wounded. One killed was a six year old boy who ‘had his whole life still ahead of him,’ said his dad. We have failed him and all victims of gun violence.”

“Prayers with all those in Gilroy tonight,” wrote music producer Scooter Braun on Twitter. “This is unfortunately becoming and has been all too common. Thankful for all the first responders on the scene. Our thoughts and prayers being sent tonight.”

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the terrible tragedy in Gilroy. Our thoughts and prayers are with today’s victims, their families and all those affected,” reads a post on the official Twitter account of the San Francisco Giants.

The shooting also hit hard for people associated with past festivals.

“40 years I’ve seen this Festival rock,” wrote Jennette Arde-Cella, who identified herself as the 1980 Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival. “Food, music, laughter.. just all around happiness. It took JUST ONE person to ruin it.”

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.