Two U.S. Festivals Attacked Over Weekend

Today in Security: Two U.S. Festivals Attacked Over Weekend

​This weekend, two festivals—a music festival in Brooklyn, New York, and a food festival in Northern California—were attacked by active assailants, leaving multiple people dead or injured.

At the Old Timers Event in New York—a decades-old annual music festival featuring local artists and musicians—gunfire began on a park playground around 11 p.m. shortly after the event's second night wrapped up. A 38-year-old man was killed, and 11 others were wounded. The two shooters have not been found.

At the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, a shooter bypassed stringent attendee screening and metal detectors by cutting a hole in the festival's perimeter fence. Three people were killed, and at least 15 were injured. The suspect was shot and killed by police within minutes.

"The garlic festival shooter accessed the venue through a creek, and then by cutting a hole in the fence. This attack proves that a determined actor will get through," says Jennifer Hesterman, vice president of Watermark Risk Management International and author of Soft Target Hardening: Protecting People from Attack. "We don't yet know how the festival organizers responded to the shooting, but part of event planning must be focused on managing a possible mass casualty scene—having enough tourniquets, first aid kits, prepositioned medical staff, and radios."

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said that the festival had many officers in the park at the time of the shooting, which accounts for the fast response time.  

Hesterman adds: "Small and/or rural events must get past the 'it won't happen here' mentality and plan as if it might. They owe it to attendees to not only work to deter or prevent an attack, but also to be prepared to properly respond and save lives."

The two shootings raised security concerns around massive music festival Lollapalooza, which is set to begin this week in Chicago. More than 400,000 people are expected to attend the four-day event. Over the weekend, Chicago police called in several hundred additional officers to patrol the festivities and block parties. The festival included evacuation and safety instructions on its website.