Event Safety Alliance Statement on the Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

We have been here before.  Sunday’s shooting at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California fits the profile of many similar incidents in recent years.  A single shooter armed with an assault rifle and high-capacity magazines, designed to maximize enemy damage on the battlefield.  A young man with a grievance against society.  A plan to either subvert venue security arrangements or simply shoot his way through them.  An apparent intention to die that day.

On July 28, 2019, venue operators had engaged in many industry-standard security measures.  At the point of entry, patrons had to pass through metal detectors and have their bags checked by security guards.  The festival perimeter was fenced off from surrounding properties.  Police officers were on site to deal with any disturbances.

And yet, three people were shot to death, including a six-year old boy, and twelve more people were injured.

We have been here before.  “Thoughts and prayers” become increasingly empty the more they are offered without any healing actions to support them.  Culprits are identified and pilloried to suit agendas and to fulfill the desire for simple answers that allow us to feel safe despite the carnage.  

In our study of safety issues at live events, we have found that there is rarely a single cause of anything, or at least anything important.  Consequently, we do not suggest one “best” response to Gilroy – instead we suggest reasonable options, any or all of which can help improve your event security in our increasingly dangerous world.

Consider using this incident as motivation to revisit the training for security professionals who staff your events.  Review your emergency action plan to ensure that all staff and volunteers know their roles as well as the plan’s overall objectives.  Make sure your egress signage is easily visible under the conditions in which it would be most needed.  If you don’t have these things, explain to your budget people that if violence could reach even a farming community like Gilroy, your event should be prepared too.  Talk to your local public safety officials about how you can work more cooperatively with their departments when you have a venue full of guests.  Write to your elected officials.  Support organizations that stand for what you believe in.

The Event Safety Alliance believes anyone should be able to attend an event and emerge with fond memories, maybe some merch, and a desire to return with more friends next time.  If you feel the same way, then please join us in working to make every event as safe as possible, so the show can go on.  

Jim Digby, President

Steve Adelman, Vice President

Event Safety Alliance

August 1, 2019

Jacob Worek