GILROY, Calif. - On the anniversary of an act of cowardice and hate, a symbol of hope for a better tomorrow was hoisted atop of Gilroy flagpole.
“No community no family no person should have to experience the tragedy that happened last year,” said Mayor Roland Velasco shortly before the flag-raising ceremony.
On July 28, 2019, alleged gunman Santino Legan walked into the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival and opened fire. Two children, Stephen Romero, 6, and Keyla Salazar, 13, were killed. So was 25-year-old Trevor Irby. Another 17 people were injured before Legan turned the gun on himself as police moved in.
“Today is just a somber reflection for the victims. Prayers for the families of Stephen, Kayla, and Trevor,” said Tom Cline, president of the Gilroy Garlic Association. Festival. Added Santa Clara University Psychology Professor Dr. Thomas Plante, “People generally like that. They feel kind of cared for they feel held. They feel supported. And people tend to need that when they’re feeling stressed or down.”
The morning flag-raising ceremony is only part of events scheduled to honor those impacted by the shooting massacre. The Gilroy Resilience Center, formed after the crime, continues helping the community galvanize through its grief.
“Really outside of the box thinking with people as they process through their trauma,” said Kasey Halcon, victim’s services director with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Officials say nearly $2 million has been donated to the Gilroy Strong Victim’s Fund so far.
The limited memorial, held with a small crowd in the shadow of COVID-19, is a victory over an act of evil, officials said.
“This flag represents our collective spirit, and desire to rise above senseless acts of violence,” said Mayor Velasco.