Following the mass shooting in Gilroy that killed three people and injured multiple other festival-goers, organizers are taking no chances keeping the community safe when the crowd-drawing annual 154th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games returns in a month to the Alameda County Fairgrounds.
While the Gilroy Garlic Festival was winding down on the evening of July 28, a gunman cut through a fence at the festival and fired an SKS rifle at attendees. Two children, ages 6 and 13, and a 25-year-old man were fatally shot, and more than a dozen others were injured before the shooter, a 19-year-old man, died after being shot by law enforcement and ultimately turned the gun on himself.
As the Bay Area continues to reel from the Gilroy shooting, plus the other mass casualty shootings in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and a bar in Dayton, Ohio this past weekend, the leaders in charge of overseeing public safety at the Scottish Games in Pleasanton from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 said they’ve been busy “beefing up” security in response to the Gilroy incident.
Rob Tysinger, chief of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, which runs the annual Scottish Games, announced on the organization’s website that staff “has been formulating a plan to institute advanced security measures” at the event for a while.
A private security company that’s been hired will be on high alert, and the Pleasanton police and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office will be around the entire time keeping an eye on things, Tysinger told the Weekly. “We’ve talked to them about beefing up their presence a little too, in light of what’s happened,” he said.
Many attendees come dressed in traditional Scottish Highland garb and often accessorize with various swords, knives and daggers associated with Highland attire such as skean dhus. As long as people are in Highland dress, Tysinger said “that sort of thing will still be allowed” this year.
“Our security people have been instructed there’s things that relate to Highland wear that are still OK,” he added. Those coming with blades and other traditional weapons as part of their costume will be subject to a second screening while people in streetwear will go through the metal detectors and have their bags searched at the entrance.
“It's hard to plan for something” like what happened, but Tysinger said staff is doing everything possible to make it a safe and fun time for everyone. “That means more effort on our part to keep people safe, but we’re doing what we can to make people feel safe and secure.”
To learn more about what is allowed inside at the Scottish Highlands Gathering and Games, and the event itself, visit www.thescottishgames.com.