A grandmother has paid tribute to the six-year-old who was tragically shot dead at a popular festival in Northern California.
Stephen Romero was one of four people who died after a mass shooting at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, with a further 15 people injured.
His father, Alberto Romero, told San Jose Mercury News he was at home when his wife called to say she, her mother and their son had been shot at the local event.
He told the publication:
I couldn’t believe what was happening, that what she was saying was a lie, maybe I was dreaming.
Alberto went to hospital to visit his son, who was in a critical condition.
They told me he was in critical condition and that they were working on him. Five minutes later they told me he was dead.
When Alberto’s mother, Maribel Romero, found out her grandson had been shot, she went from hospital to hospital looking for him.
The grief-stricken grandparent, who described Stephen as a ‘happy kid’, told KRON, as reported by CNN:
This is really hard, there’s no words to describe (it), I don’t think this is fair.
Stephen was among the three people who were killed on Sunday even before police engaged with the gunman, shooting him dead. Another 15 people were injured after the gunman opened fire at the festival which attracts around 100,000 people each year.
A manhunt is now underway for a second suspect, whose role in the shooting is as of yet unclear.
I just wish that they get the people who did it.
We need to know that they got this person and that there’s justice.
Fred M Tovar, a member of Gilroy City Council, told CNN of the sadness he felt upon hearing about Stephen’s death:
I pray that God will grant his family strength. My most sincere condolences. I will keep your family close in my thoughts and prayers in the coming weeks as you are going through the process of grieving.
Eyewitnesses described the chaos which broke out at the festival, with people running and climbing fences in an attempt to escape the gunfire.
Eyewitness Lex De La Herran said:
Initially I thought it was fireworks, People started screaming and running, I instinctively did the same. It was complete chaos.
[…] I remember seeing a whole stampede of people running, jumping fences, Some man screamed ‘Those are real!’
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.