Gil­roy gun­man named; vic­tims in­clude 2 kids

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Ruben Vives, Matthew Ormseth, Laura J. Nel­son, Han­nah Fry and Richard Win­ton

GIL­ROY — The man po­lice say opened fire at the Gil­roy Gar­lic Fes­ti­val on Sun­day used a ri­fle banned in Cal­i­for­nia to kill three peo­ple, in­clud­ing two chil­dren, and wound 12 oth­ers.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied the gun­man as Santino Wil­liam Le­gan , 19, of Gil­roy.

Three of­fi­cers who were pa­trolling the park fa­tally shot Le­gan af­ter the he re­port­edly started fir­ing at crowds gath­ered at the pop­u­lar food fes­ti­val in Santa Clara County.

A 6-year-old boy, Stephen Romero, and a 13-year-old girl, Keyla Salazar, both of San Jose, were killed, the Santa Clara County coro­ner’s of­fice said.

Of­fi­cials at Keuka Col­lege iden­ti­fied the third vic­tim as grad­u­ate Trevor Irby, 25, of Ro­mu­lus, N.Y.

The of­fi­cers be­gan shoot­ing at the gun­man in less than a minute, Gil­roy Po­lice Chief Scot Smithee said, “de­spite the fact that they were out­gunned, with their hand­guns, against a ri­fle.”

“We had thou­sands of peo­ple there in a very small area,” he said, his eyes tear­ing up. “It could have got­ten so much worse, so fast. I’m re­ally proud that they got there as quickly as they did. There ab­so­lutely would have been more blood­shed.”

Au­thor­i­ties on Mon­day were search­ing for an­swers to why a gun­man opened fire at a pop­u­lar food fes­ti­val, killing three. Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve many more peo­ple would have died if of­fi­cers pa­trolling the event had not stopped the gun­man so quickly.

The mil­i­tary-style semi­au­to­matic ri­fle used in the at­tack is il­le­gal to own in Cal­i­for­nia but was pur­chased le­gally in Ne­vada on July 9 — a fact that drew frus­tra­tion from Gov. Gavin New­som on Mon­day.

“You can’t put borders up, speak­ing of borders, to a neigh­bor­ing state where you can buy this damn stuff le­gally. How in the hell is that pos­si­ble?” New­som told re­porters at the Santa Clara Valley Med­i­cal Cen­ter. “I have no prob­lem with the Sec­ond Amend­ment. You have a right to bear arms, but not weapons of god­damned mass de­struc­tion.”

The owner of Big Mikes Gun & Ammo, where the shooter bought the gun, posted on its Face­book page Mon­day to ex­press anger over what hap­pened in Gil­roy, not­ing the business sells guns to peo­ple it be­lieves are “upstanding cit­i­zens to pro­mote safe sport shoot­ing.”

“I pray to God for all the fam­i­lies,” the owner wrote. “I did not know this in­di­vid­ual. He or­dered the ri­fle off my in­ter­net page. When I did see him, he was act­ing happy and showed no rea­sons for con­cern. I would never ever sell any firearm to any­one who acted wrong or looks as­so­ci­ated with any bad group like white power.”

The gun­man was orig­i­nally from Gil­roy and spent some time in Ne­vada liv­ing with fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to the city po­lice chief.

The FBI and Min­eral County sher­iff’s deputies on Mon­day searched a unit in a triplex in Walker Lake, Nev., that au­thor­i­ties be­lieve Le­gan used in the days be­fore the shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to Min­eral County District At­tor­ney Sean Rowe.

Au­thor­i­ties also searched a house on Churchill Place owned by Le­gan’s fam­ily but were still try­ing to de­ter­mine a mo­tive. A source, who spoke to the Los An­ge­les Times on the con­di­tion of anonymity, said de­tec­tives were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Le­gan’s back­ground and state­ments he had made on so­cial me­dia.

Le­gan’s grand­fa­ther Thomas Le­gan was a Santa Clara County su­per­vi­sor be­fore his death last year, ac­cord­ing to his obit­u­ary.

In the hours be­fore the shoot­ing, Le­gan ap­peared to have posted a photo on his In­sta­gram pro­file, which has since been deleted, of what ap­peared to be the Gil­roy Gar­lic Fes­ti­val with the cap­tion: “Ayyy gar­lic fes­ti­val time come get wasted on over­priced (ex­ple­tive).”

He also ap­peared to have posted a photo of a Smokey Bear sign warn­ing about fire dan­ger with a cap­tion that in­structed peo­ple to read the novel “Might Is Right.” The book, pub­lished in 1890 un­der the pseu­do­nym Rag­nar Red­beard, in­cludes prin­ci­ples re­lated to so­cial Dar­win­ism and is de­scribed as in­clud­ing misog­y­nis­tic and racist ideas.

Early Mon­day, of­fi­cers emerged from the Le­gan fam­ily’s two-story house, sit­u­ated in the mid­dle of a cul-de-sac lined with stucco homes, car­ry­ing sev­eral pa­per bags. Other in­ves­ti­ga­tors searched a dusty blue Nis­san parked out­side the home.

Two cats roamed around the house as au­thor­i­ties worked. Neigh­bors peered out of their win­dows to watch the spec­ta­cle. Some stepped out­side to check out the po­lice cruis­ers and news crews that had de­scended on their quiet neigh­bor­hood.

Kawika Pala­cios, 29, said his par­ents saw po­lice search­ing a home linked to the man sus­pected of open­ing fire Sun­day at the Gil­roy Gar­lic Fes­ti­val.

Neigh­bor Kawika Pala­cios, 29, said the Le­gan fam­ily has lived in the neigh­bor­hood for more than 18 years and mostly has kept to it­self. Santino Le­gan, who is one of three off­spring, was some­times seen out­side with his sib­lings box­ing with their father, Pala­cios said.

An­drew Sanchez’s step­fa­ther was in the back­yard Sun­day night, feed­ing the cats, when he heard, “Gil­roy po­lice — open up!” Sanchez, a 19-year-old col­lege student, said he saw po­lice swarm with flash­lights into the back­yard that abuts his fam­ily’s prop­erty.

Sanchez said his fam­ily had had just one en­counter with the Le­gan fam­ily. The day his fam­ily moved in, Sanchez said, a truck driven by some­one who lived at the home had cut them off and then briefly pur­sued them. It was star­tling, and they’d since avoided them, he said.

It stung, Sanchez said, to see the fes­ti­val — the pride of Gil­roy, a draw for tourists and celebrity chefs, a boon to its small busi­nesses, ho­tels and civic groups that use it to fundraise — be­come the site of an­other mass shoot­ing. His fam­ily buys week­end passes ev­ery year. Sanchez at­tended on Fri­day; his mother, Satur­day.

In this town of gar­lic pick­ers and Sil­i­con Valley com­muters, the fes­ti­val “is the one thing Gil­roy has go­ing,” Sanchez said.

“It hurts. It’s hurt­ing ev­ery­one in Gil­roy,” he said. “That fes­ti­val means so much to us, and it will for­ever be tainted.”

Ernesto Men­doza, an­other neigh­bor, saw the car­a­van of po­lice ve­hi­cles that streamed into the culde-sac Sun­day evening, not long af­ter re­ports of a shoot­ing at the nearby gar­lic fes­ti­val. Blar­ing from the ve­hi­cles’ loudspeake­rs was a mes­sage: Go in­side and shut your doors.

Au­thor­i­ties cor­doned off the mouth of the cul-de-sac un­til about 1 a.m., when the ve­hi­cles streamed out, he said.

Men­doza be­lieved they were just mak­ing sure the neigh­bor­hood was safe — he of­ten runs in the park where the fes­ti­val is held, just a 30-minute jog from his home. It wasn’t un­til this morn­ing, when re­porters asked Men­doza what he knew of his neigh­bors, that he re­al­ized the shooter might have lived on his street.

KENT NISHIMURA/LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

Two peo­ple stand out­side the emer­gency en­trance to St. Louise Re­gional Hos­pi­tal on Sun­day in Gil­roy. A gun­man opened fire at the Gil­roy Gar­lic Fes­ti­val ear­lier in the day.

GO­FUNDME

A Go­FundMe page has been set up for the fam­ily of Stephen Romero, 6, one of the vic­tims of the mass shoot­ing in Gil­roy.

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