Shooting Victims Sue Gilroy Garlic Festival

Doug Sovern
November 13, 2019 - 10:21 am
People reunite with family members in the parking lot of Gavilan College after a gunman shot into the crowd indiscriminately at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. July 29, 2019.

Kate Cimini / The Salinas Californian via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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Five survivors who were shot during the deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival are suing the operating association over what they call inadequate security measures that failed to protect them.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court by attorney Randy Scarlett against the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association and First Alarm Security and Patrol. The group is seeking unspecified damages.

“They want to make sure that promoters of public events like the Gilroy Garlic Festival, take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the attendees of the event,” said Scarlett. “They did not do that here. They failed miserably.”

Two minors and one adult died from the mass shooting. Dozens of others were injured when the teenage gunman opened fire in July. The shooter died in the attack as well. 

Related: Gilroy Shooter Looked At Religious, Political Targets Too, FBI Says

The first person shot, Wendy Towner, has already had more than $2 million worth of medical procedures in her recovery from the shooting. Her family is worried about the bills, but Towner insists that the more important outcome of this lawsuit would be forcing improved safety measures. 

“I don’t want this to happen to anybody ever again,” said Towner.

She and other survivors have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her three-year-old son can’t return to the park where the festival was held, she added.

The other victims suing alongside Towner are Justin Bates, Nick McFarland, Francisco Aguilera and Brynn Ota-Matthews.

Officials for the Gilroy Garlic Festival stated that the lawsuit filed is not unexpected and they will respond through the appropriate legal channels. 

Scarlett also plans to file a claim against the city of Gilroy.