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US police searching for partner of mass shooter

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Four dead, 15 wounded at festival in Gilroy, Northern California

CALIFORNIA Police in Northern California were searching early yesterday for a suspected accomplice of the gunman who killed three people, including a six-year-old boy in a mass shooting at a food festival a day earlier.

The gunman was shot dead by police officers within minutes of opening fire early on Sunday evening at the three-day Gilroy Garlic Festival, about 48km southeast of the city of San Jose.

Fifteen people were injured, but it was unclear how many were shot or otherwise hurt in the crush of bystanders trying to flee, according to police. One person was in critical condition, a hospital spokesman said.

A second suspect "was involved in some way, we just don't know in what way", Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said late on Sunday.

Mr Smithee said the gunman had cut through a fence and that police recovered a rifle at the scene.

A witness named Julissa Contreras told NBC a white man in his 30s armed with a rifle opened fire indiscriminately.

"I could see him shooting in just every direction. He wasn't aiming at anyone specifically. It was just left to right, right to left," Ms Contreras said.

"He definitely was prepared for what he was doing," she said.

Footage uploaded to social media appeared to show festival attendees scattering in fear and confusion as loud popping sounds could be heard in the background.

"What's going on?" a woman could be heard asking on one video. "Who'd shoot up a garlic festival?"


Evenny Reyes, 13, told the San Jose Mercury News that at first she thought the gunfire was fireworks but then she saw someone with a wounded leg.

"We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandana wrapped around his leg because he got shot," Evenny told the newspaper. "There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out."

Another witness, Mr Maximo Rocha, a volunteer with the Gilroy Browns youth football team, said he saw many people on the ground, but could not be sure how many were shot.

He told NBC Bay Area that "quite a few" were injured, "because I helped a few".

One video posted on Twitter showed a blood-spattered woman sitting in the back of a semi-trailer and telling a man she had been shot in the hand.

Stage hand Shawn Viaggi told the Mercury News he saw bullets hitting the ground.

"I called out, 'It's a real gun, let's get out of here,' and we hid under the stage," Mr Viaggi told the newspaper.

Started in 1979, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual event run by volunteers and held outdoors at Christmas Hill Park. - REUTERS, AFP