Gilroy gunman named; victims include 2 kids
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.
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.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family of Stephen Romero, 6, one of the victims of the mass shooting in Gilroy.