It's been six months since a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival claimed three lives and left a dozen people wounded, and the anniversary was marked Tuesday with the opening of a new center devoted to helping survivors.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen hosted a grand opening for the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center at the Neon Exchange at 7365 Monterey Road. Center services will include counseling, trauma education and compensation services for those affected by the July 28 shooting.
"Like people, communities can crumble after a tragedy," Rosen said in a statement. "Like the police officers that day, Gilroy came together and showed the world how to face hatred – with courage and caring. Today, we honor this city’s heroic spirit through our art contest and a center that shows a continued commitment to healing."
Rosen toured the center and handed out the annual awards for the Justice for All high school art contest. This year’s theme was #GilroyStrong, and a senior at Lincoln High School in San Jose was awarded $1,500 for her poster.
"I wanted it to be less about the act of violence that Gilroy has endured, but more about the sense of community," said Ana-Gabriela Cadena, whose poster will be put on permanent display at the center. "I read about the community coming together and how Gilroy does not want to be known for the violence, but its resiliency."
All the art contest entries, from more than 35 Santa Clara County high school students, will be on display at the resiliency center until the end of the week.
On Monday night, the San Jose Sharks honored first responders to the festival shooting with a pregame ceremony before the team took on the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center. Sharks players donned #GilroyStrong sweaters and caps during pregame warmups.
The Sharks Foundation donated nearly $46,000 to the Gilroy Strong fundraising efforts.
Gilroy police Chief Scot Smithee was among those honored. He said he hopes people will remember the Garlic Festival the way it was before the shooting.
"We dealt with the trauma and the tragedy, and of course some survivors are still dealing with that," Smithee said. "But I want to keep stuff fresh in peoples’ minds what the Gilroy Garlic Festival was about and what it does for the community, and all the positives, in hopes that we can move forward and create a successful event in the future."
Stephen Romero, 6; Keyla Salazar, 13; and Trevor Irby, 25 were killed in the shooting. Gunman Santino William Legan, 19, took his own life in a shootout with police.
Initially, the resiliency center will be open for two evenings a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Expanded services are expected in April.