A gunman has opened fire at a food festival in the US state of California, killing at least three people and wounding 15 others before being shot dead by police.

Local police chief Scot Smithee saidĀ authorities were still looking for a second suspect following Sunday’s attack at Gilroy Garlic Festival, in northern California.

“This is incredibly hard and disheartening,” Smithee said in a press conference early on Monday morning.

Witnesses reported confusion and panic as shots rang out at the festival in Gilroy, a city of 50,000 people located about 176km southeast of San Francisco.

Smithee said investigators believe the gunman, who was engaged by police within a minute of opening fire at around 5:40pm (00:40 GMT on Monday), used “some sort of tool” to cut through a fence and gain access to the venue.

He added that attendees had to go through security checkpoints with metal detectors.

The annual festival is a three-day celebration featuring food, cooking competitions and music that attracts more than 100,000 people. Sunday was the final day of this year’s event.

Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco said an “active investigation” was under way.

“I want to express my extreme shock and sadness for what happened today,” he said. “This is a tragic and senseless crime.”

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