Father recalls moment he learned 6-year-old son was killed in garlic festival shooting


The father of the 6-year-old boy killed at California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival said he thought he was “dreaming” when his wife called to say that both she and their son had been shot.

Alberto Romero was home in San Jose when wife Barbara Aquirre called to say she was seriously injured — and emergency workers were desperately trying to save their son Stephen.

“She said that they shot my son and they took him from her, the officers,” Alberto Romero told The Mercury News of the call about his “joyful” son, the youngest of three killed by a crazed gunmanSunday.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening — that what she was saying was a lie, that maybe I was dreaming,” the 33-year-old electrician said of the call from his wife, who was shot in the stomach and hand and is now in a medically induced coma. Her mother was also struck in the leg.

Romero raced to St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy where his son — who had just graduated from kindergarten and only turned 6 last month — was being treated.

“They told me that he was in critical condition, that they were working on him,” Romero told the paper. “And then five minutes later they told me he was dead.”

Romero, who was escorted into his son’s hospital room to have a final moment with him, said Stephen was “joyful, always wanted to play, always positive.”

“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.”

After then horror of losing his son, Romero raced 30 miles to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose where his wife was put in a medically induced coma, he told the paper. Her mother, Barbara Velasquez Aquirre, is being treated at the same hospital.

They were among the 15 people injured in the shooting spree that left four dead, including the gunman, on the last day of the three-day garlic festival that attracts thousands.

Romero’s mother, 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.