Stephen Romero. Picture: Facebook
Stephen Romero. Picture: Facebook

Boy, 6, killed as gun violence grips US

A FATHER has spoken of the final moment he spent with his dying six-year-old son after he was shot by a madman at a food festival in California as America was rocked by a series of shootings.

The spate of gun violence claimed 11 lives and left dozens injured in separate incidents across the country, including 12 people shot during a deadly gang shooting at a block party in Brooklyn and five people dead and more injured after shootings in Wisconsin. In Chicago, a boy, 3, died after accidentally shooting himself in the face.

Meanwhile, Alberto Romero was left to grieve over the tragic loss of his boy, Stephen, after the senseless rampage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California which took three innocent lives and left many injured.

Stephen Romero was one of three innocent people killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Picture: Facebook
Stephen Romero was one of three innocent people killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Picture: Facebook

The gunman was also shot dead.

Mr Romero was at home in San Jose when his wife phoned him and said emergency workers were working frantically to save the life of their son.

 

Police officers escort people from Christmas Hill Park following the deadly shooting massacre at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Picture: AP
Police officers escort people from Christmas Hill Park following the deadly shooting massacre at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Picture: AP

His wife was also seriously injured after being shot in the stomach and hand, while her mother was shot in the leg.

"She said that they shot my son and they took him from her, the officers," Mr Romero told The Mercury News.

 

Gilroy Garlic festival volunteer Denise Buessing, left, embraces fellow volunteer Marsha Struzik after the shooting. Picture: AP
Gilroy Garlic festival volunteer Denise Buessing, left, embraces fellow volunteer Marsha Struzik after the shooting. Picture: AP

"I couldn't believe what was happening - that what she was saying was a lie, that maybe I was dreaming."

 

Stephen Romero had just finished kindergarten. Picture: Supplied
Stephen Romero had just finished kindergarten. Picture: Supplied

The New York Post reports that Mr Romero raced to St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy where his son - who had just graduated from kindergarten and only turned six last month - was being treated.

"They told me that he was in critical condition, that they were working on him," Mr Romero said. "And then five minutes later they told me he was dead."

 

Police at the scene of the deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. Picture: Bay Area News Group
Police at the scene of the deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. Picture: Bay Area News Group

Mr Romero was escorted into his son's hospital room to have a final moment with him.

"My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6," he told NBC. "There's nothing I really can do besides try to be with him until I can put him in his resting spot, wherever that is."

 

The Gilroy Garlic Festival scene after the shooting. Picture: Bay Area News Group
The Gilroy Garlic Festival scene after the shooting. Picture: Bay Area News Group

After the horror of losing his son, Romero raced 50km to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose where his wife was put in a medically induced coma. Her mother is being treated at the same hospital.

Stephen Romero's grandmother, Maribel Romero, told ABC7 News that she wants "justice for my grandson".

"It has to be someone really sick. Because shooting a kid… it's a family event. I just hope there is justice and they catch the last person or the other person and that there's justice," she said.

A police officer stands guard at Gilroy High School after the shooting at Gilroy. Picture: Bay Area News Group
A police officer stands guard at Gilroy High School after the shooting at Gilroy. Picture: Bay Area News Group

America was also reminded of its shameful history of gun violence with news that a man who was 11 years old when he and a friend shot five people dead at a school in Arkansas in 1998 died in a car crash over the weekend.

Drew Grant, 33, who had legally changed his name from Andrew Golden, died when his Honda CRV collided head-on with a Chevrolet Tahoe about 160km north of Little Rock, Arkansas.

On March 24, 1998, Golden and his then-13-year-old friend Mitchell Johnson set off a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and shot at people as they evacuated.

Golden was released from jail in 2007 and eventually moved to Jackson, Missouri. Johnson was set free in 2005.

In 2017, victims' families were awarded $150 million in damages by a Craighead County judge.