Garlic festival shooting. EPA

Three people have been killed and 15 injured after a gunman attacked a food festival in California, the United States.

The gunman was shot dead by police shortly after he began firing, although police are investigating reports that a second suspect may still be at large.

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The Gilroy Garlic Festival was about to end for the weekend on Sunday evening, when shots were fired at the site.

There was “a white man in his early to mid-30s firing a rifle,” eyewitness Julissa Contreras told NBC.

It was the 246th mass shooting in the US this year, according to US tracking website Gun Violence Archive.

The suspect entered the festival after cutting through a perimeter fence, Gilroy Chief of Police Scot Smithee told reporters. He said witnesses reported that a second suspect may have been involved, possibly in a support role.

Officers were already at the site and responded to the shooting in less than a minute, Chief Smithee added.

Videos posted on social media showed people running away from the festival, which took place 30 miles (48km) south of San Jose.