What we know about the Gilroy Garlic Festival festival shooter

The gunman who police say opened fire at a California festival, killing three and injuring 12 others, was identified by police Monday as 19-year-old Santino William Legan. Witnesses say the gunman had a “high-powered rifle” and was shooting randomly into the crowd at the annual Garlic Festival in Gilroy Sunday evening. Some witnesses said he suddenly appeared from behind a stage before opening fire. He was quickly shot and killed by Gilroy police.

Gilroy chief of police Scot Smithee confirmed the gunman opened fire with an AK-47-type assault rifle he had apparently legally purchased in Nevada on July 9. The three dead were a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s, Smithee said. Three Gilroy police officers who were already at the scene conducting security for the large festival responded in less than a minute, Smithee said. The gunman fired at the officers “as soon as he saw” them, and the officers returned fire, killing the gunman, Smithee said.

“Despite the fact that they were outgunned with their handguns against the rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound the suspect,” Smithee said.

Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting witnesses describe scene of “mass chaos”

Smithee hailed the officers for their bravery. He described a large crowd gathered in a small area and said there “absolutely would have been more bloodshed” had the officers not acted quickly.

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Smithee said the shooting appeared random, and said police have not determined a motive.  

“It was random,” said witness Cheryl Low, who was working a vendor booth at the festival. “He shot one shot, then he put the clip in, and he just started moving shooting back and forth, walking towards our tent because that’s where most of the people were in that area, and he started just shooting.”

Police at the scene found a backpack belonging to Legan that contained rifle ammunition, CBS News has learned. The ATF is tracing the weapon and has canine units searching the area for shell casings, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues reports.

Santino William Legan, 19, (inset) has been identified as the gunman in the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in California. CBS News

Smithee said the gunman used some kind of tool to cut through a perimeter fence to gain access to the festival, which The Associated Press reports draws about 100,000 each year. 

The band Tin Man was doing an encore when gunfire erupted, CBS San Francisco reports. Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area with what appeared to be an assault rifle. Van Breen and other members of the band dove under the stage.

Van Breen told the station he heard someone shout, “Why are you doing this?” The person responded, “Because I’m really angry.”

CBS San Francisco’s Joe Vasquez reports Legan graduated from Gilroy High School in 2017. Police searched the two-story Gilroy home of the gunman’s family and a dusty car parked outside before leaving the house Monday less than a mile from the festival with paper bags and what appeared to be other evidence. 

Smithee said the gunman had apparently been living with family members in Nevada when he purchased the weapon there this month, but didn’t know how long he had been in the state or when he returned to California.
A woman who lives across the street said Santino Legan had not lived there for at least a year and SWAT officers came to the home Sunday night. Jan Dickson called the Legans “a nice, normal family.”
“How do you cope with this? They have to deal with the fact that their son did this terrible thing and that he died,” Dickson said.

Victims of California festival shooting include 6-year-old boy

Legan posted two photos on Instagram not long before the attack.

One photo depicted Smokey the Bear in front of a “fire danger” sign, with a caption that said to read the 19th century book “Might is Right,” a work that claims race determines behavior and is popular among white nationalists and far-right extremist groups.

Legan’s since-deleted Instagram account says he is Italian and Iranian. Minutes before the shooting, he had posted a photo from the festival saying, “Ayyy garlic festival time” and “come get wasted on overpriced (stuff).”

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Content that praises, supports or represents the shooting or anyone responsible violates our Community Guidelines and we will continue to remove as soon as we identify it.”

Smithee said police are searching for a possible second shooter based on witness accounts, but so far had no confirmation.

“We’ve gotten multiple reports that there may have been another person with him, that they ran this way or they ran that way, but different people gave different versions, so we really don’t know at this point,” Smithee said.  

Gilroy, a city of 50,000 some 80 miles southeast of San Francisco, is known as “The Garlic Capital of the World.” The annual three-day festival features food, music and cooking competitions.

“It’s just incredibly sad and disheartening that an event that does so much good for our community has to suffer from a tragedy like this,” Smithee added.

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