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Hearts 'heavy with sadness' over violence at garlic festival, bishop says

Garlic fest violence

Justin Bates, right, a survivor of the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting, is comforted by his father, Rob Bates, during a candlelight vigil outside Gilroy City Hall in California July 29, 2019. The event honored those that died and were injured during the shooting a day earlier. The Diocese of San Jose held a bilingual prayer vigil July 29 for victims, survivors and first responders at St. Mary Church in Gilroy in response to the shooting that claimed three lives and injured 12 others. (CNS photo/Kate Munsch, Reuters


by Catholic News Service


                SAN JOSE, Calif. (CNS) - San Jose Bishop Oscar Cantu announced that a bilingual prayer vigil for victims, survivors and first responders would take place late July 29 at St. Mary's Church in Gilroy in response to a shooting a day earlier that claimed the lives of three people and injured 12 others on the last day of a popular festival.

                "Our hearts are heavy with sadness in the wake of the horrific shooting that claimed the lives of at least three innocent victims and injured several others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival," the bishop said in a statement. "I am grateful for the first responders and individual citizens whose quick thinking and professional actions saved countless lives."

                CBS News reported that the three who were killed included a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s at the festival in Gilroy, which is about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco. Police quickly shot and killed the gunman, identified as Santino William Legan, 19.

                The police chief said investigators had not found motive yet for the shooting.

                "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, survivors and their families in this time of sorrow," Bishop Cantu said. "May God, the source of our faith and strength, grant comfort and hope to all those affected by acts of violence.

                "May grief give way to healing and grace, as we work together to protect the innocent and prevent future massacres, so that peace may prevail in our hearts and communities," he added.

                Gilroy is considered the "garlic capital of the world." The festival goes over three days, features food, cooking competitions and music, and draws more than 100,000 people.

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