GILROY, Calif. (KTVU) - The City of Gilroy hosted National Night Out on Tuesday night. The annual event was originally planned for August but was postponed after the Garlic Festival shooting. The night was an opportunity for law enforcement and the community to come together and heal. City leaders said the event was bigger than ever stretching several city blocks.
National Night Out kicked off with a prayer, a moment of silence and a song about healing.
Back on July 28, the town of Gilroy was changed forever. Its beloved garlic festival was shaken after a 19-year-old opened fire on the festival ground, injuring several people and killing three festival-goers.
National Night Out was put on hold to give the city time to grieve.
“I don't think that I would say everything is great and everybody's back to normal but I think we are working in the right direction, and we will recover from this,” said Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee.
Chief Smithee said he and his officers needed this event just as much as the community.
“I’m here to thank the first responders for their heroic actions especially on July 28,” said Gilroy City Councilmember Marie Blankley.
During the night, the family of a shooting victim surprised the police chief with a sign that read hero. The shooting was top of mind for everyone. A community altar was placed front and center to remember the victims killed.
“We were actually at the festival during the shooting and I can’t say enough how they saved our lives,” said Kristin Filice of Gilroy.
Filice brought her two-year-old. It was their first time to National Night Out. She said given the trauma, she felt it was more important than ever to connect with police.
Amid the water balloon toss, the cheerleaders dancing and mariachi band playing, the night was an opportunity for Gilroy to show its resilience, not just Gilroy strong, but Gilroy stronger.
“Like all wounds, time heals but it will still be ingrained in the memory of Gilroy,” said Mayor Roland Velasco.
City leaders said other cities impacted by gun violence including Las Vegas and communities in Texas also postponed their National Night Out and held them Tuesday. October 1 is designated as another date for National Night Out.