History Repeats In Gilroy Garlic Festival Slaying


It keeps happening.

A July 28 shooting at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., killed three people and wounded a dozen others. Three country acts — Caylee Hammack, King Calaway and Waterloo Revival — had performed and already left the scene, but the attack created a terrifying sense of déjà vu for Nashville's music community.

The incident occurred as communities continue their recovery from two other horrific shootings at locations that employed country talent. On July 10, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department issued a 158-page report as the city forges ahead in the wake of the Oct. 1, 2017, slaying of 58 concertgoers in the midst of Jason Aldean's set at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. And on July 21, the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., held a tree-lighting ceremony to honor 12 people who were killed in a Nov. 7 massacre. The club remains closed.

The Gilroy slayings "happened right where we were standing for meet-and-greets earlier in the day," Waterloo Revival's George Birge said in a statement. "It's just so devastating after being there, seeing all those happy people and experiencing how amazing of a day it was supposed to be. Our hearts are with the victims of this tragic shooting. Please pray for the victims and their families."

The Gilroy onslaught was short in duration. The police department claims to have shot and killed the assailant, who circumvented standard security detail by busting through a fence away from the gates, within a minute after he opened fire. According to the Associated Press, when someone in the crowd asked why he was attacking them, the shooter shouted, "Because I'm really angry!"

The shooter, who employed white-supremacist language in recent social media posts, used an AK-47 style assault rifle, which was reportedly obtained legally.

Country has had a difficult relationship with the issue. The National Rifle Association, which counts gun manufacturers among its constituency, worked with country artists through NRA Country, a marketing platform that portrayed firearms with patriotic tones. Artists were once shy about the topic, but began to speak out about gun control and concert safety in greater numbers after the Borderline shooting, particularly in a Billboard story on the topic.

No major legislation has been enacted since the Las Vegas tragedy. And the NRA has thus far offered only solutions that increase gun sales or shift prevention measures and costs to the government.