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Police On High Alert At Fremont Outdoor Festival In Wake Of Mass Shootings In Gilroy, El Paso

FREMONT (KPIX) - Fremont's Festival of the Arts will draw more than 300,000 people to the city this weekend, and police are on high alert after two mass shootings in less than a week.

The most visible police presence is a 30-foot high watchtower where Fremont Police officers have a bird's eye view of the event.

The tower is situated at Walnut Avenue and Paseo Padre Parkway.

"Is this safe? We always have to think about that," says Jennifer Martinez. She lives near the festival, and this is her first year attending.

She decided to bring her family, but not without having a conversation with her husband about their safety - especially because her sister was involved in the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017.

"It was definitely something we talked about and were concerned about, but we've seen the cops and we've seen those guys circling so it does feel safe," says Martinez.

Police say security is the top priority at this weekend's festival.

"Our goal is to make sure that the community is able to come to this event and know that we're trying everything we possibly can do to keep them safe," says Lt. Matthew Snelson with the Fremont Police Department.

That includes the watchtower in the center of festival, which is always staffed with at least two officers. There are also dozens of security cameras scattered throughout the area, and 12 massive portable roadblocks around the perimeter.

The deadly shooting less than week ago at the Gilroy Garlic Festival is still fresh in everyone's minds, especially since the Fremont Festival of the Arts is a similar open-air event.

"We're constantly trying to evaluate based on what we know happened and how we are planned to deal with things, so we are constantly reevaluating," says Lt. Snelson.

Those who decided to come on Saturday, say they refuse to live their life in fear.

"Everybody has somewhere in the back of their mind that there was the Gilroy Festival which happened and the other tragic events that happened, but I don't think that should stop people from going and enjoying their life," says Vish Rai who attended the festival with his wife and two sons.

This is the 36th year for the festival, but this is the first year the Fremont SWAT team members are carrying rifles in plain sight. In the past, officers kept the rifles hidden because they did not want to scare any attendees. This year officers say they need to be ready to respond at a moment's notice.

The Fremont Festival of the Arts continues on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and according to authorities, there will be a heavy police presence all day to ensure everyone's safety.

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