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Survivors of July’s Northern California Garlic Festival Shooting to File Personal Injury Lawsuit Citing Negligent Security

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Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting

Five individuals who were injured in July’s mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California have obtained a personal injury attorney and filed a lawsuit against the festival organizers. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in Santa Clarita County Superior Court on Tuesday, contends that the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association and their hired security company, First Alarm Security and Inc., are negligent for failing to provide sufficient protection to festival goers. 

The Los Angeles Times reports the lawsuit states that both entities in question “should have been aware of the risk of a mass shooting, increased patrols, and secured the perimeter at the event.” 

Randall Scarlett, a San Francisco personal injury attorney and Principal at Scarlett Law Group, is representing the five plaintiffs. 

Thousands were in attendance at the food festival that took place just four months ago in what is deemed the “Garlic Capital of the World” in Santa Clarita County. The gunman, identified by authorities as Gilroy Resident, Santino William Legan, opened fire on the crowd, killing three and injuring 17. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Police reported that their officers had killed Logan within minutes of the shooting spree commencing. Following an autopsy, however, the coroner verified that Legan had actually turned the gun on himself. 

One of the lawsuit’s primary complaints is “negligent security measures.” Although police have confirmed that the event featured security checkpoints equipped with metal detectors, the gunman is believed to have evaded the security measures by cutting an entrance through a metal fence near a wooded creek area. 

The Times also reported attorney Scarlett contends that that the fence breached by the gunman was not monitored, and the barrier was an “inadequate, flimsy, low-height, unsupported chain link fence.” Scarlett referred to the wooded area chosen by the gunman to be “an open door the length of a football field.”

Included in the lawsuit are references to what Scarlett believes are specific examples of how the festival organizers and their security team failed to implement what are now universally accepted best practices in an age of mass shootings occurring in the U.S. every week. The lawsuit reads, “The security we now see at professional sporting events, music concerts, and nearly every other organized large-scale public event that occurs daily has been stepped up to reflect our current threats.” Moreover, it cites 352 mass shootings this year alone as evidence that the potentially deadly consequences of lax security at public events should be common knowledge, and therefore the failure to take appropriate measures to protect the attendees warrants the lawsuit. 

Additionally, the lawsuit goes on to detail how the gunman was able to target victims in areas throughout the festival where were cars, box trucks, and various other obstructions provided cover, allowing him to remain predominantly concealed while shooting at festivalgoers. 

One of the survivors named in the lawsuit, Wendy Towner, sustained a bullet to the leg, an injury that continues to necessitate constant medical care. At a Tuesday news conference, Towner reported that she, along with members of her family, have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Once of her family members that has been diagnosed is a three-year-old child. 

Fatalities of the July Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting included Stephen Romero, 6, Trevor Irby, 25, and Keyla Salazar, 13. The shooter was 19 years old. 

In response to the lawsuit being filed, the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association issued the following statement: 

“The lawsuit filed today stemming from a horrific act of domestic terrorism, is not unexpected, and we will respond through the appropriate legal channels. As a non-profit organization, we must remain focused on our mission: fundraising for the entire community of Gilroy and the more than 150 charities that rely on us.”

No public statement on behalf of the security company or their representatives has been issued at this time. 

The Gilroy Garlic Festival was founded in 1979 and is a popular summer attraction for many Californians. Thus far there is no word on if or how security measures will be increased for future festival dates.