Memorial honors victims, first responders on one year anniversary

By Marty Cheek

One year later, the people of the South Valley came together to remember and to heal.

Tuesday July 28 was the one-year anniversary of the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting. Local people joined through online media or found their own personal ways to mourn their loss and continue the long process of grief. They remembered the men, women, and children running in terror as shots tore through the grounds at Christmas Hill Park. They remembered those 17 hurt by the flying bullets. They remembered those three whose young lives ended sadly too soon

Inside the grounds of the 50-acre city park, a small garden memorial now stands where the mass shooting occurred. Three large stones represent the three young people who died in the incident. Stephen Romero, age 6; Keyla Salazar, age 13; and Trevor Deon Irby, age 25, were killed by gunshots. Seventeen posts of a wooden fence around the memorial represent the number of victims injured in the assault

One year after the shooting, about half an hour before the time when the tragedy took place, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen walked up to a podium and spoke in front of the garden to an invited group of dignitaries and members of the families of those who died. He spoke as part of the Rising Together memorial service. Nearly 400 viewers watched on a live online broadcast because the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a mass gathering. The event was sponsored by the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center.

“One year ago today, we were having a day of joy, a day of community gathering, a day of tradition, a day of good food, a day of garlic, a day of fun, a day for Gilroy, and for our whole community,” he told them. “That day was ripped apart right here in this park. An act of evil tore the day apart. It only takes a minute to tear a day apart.”