Within a single minute, quick thinking officers shot the suspect dead, but not before three people were killed, including a six-year-old boy. At least 15 others were hurt at the Gilroy Garlic Festival near San Jose, California.
The search for a possible second suspect continues. The now deceased shooter, Santino William Legan, was initially described as a white man in his 30’s, but police say he was 19.
The second suspect “was involved in some way, we just don’t know in what way,” Gilroy, California, Police Chief Scot Smithee explained.
According to a witness, Julissa Contreras, he shot indiscriminately into the crowd and he was prepared to do this. He brought an assault rifle.
“I could see him shooting in just every direction. He wasn’t aiming at anyone specifically. It was just left to right, right to left. He definitely was prepared for what he was doing.”
Another witness said he looked like any other normal guy, except he was dressed in tactical gear. “He didn’t look angry. He was confident in what he needed to do and he was comfortable with a gun.” Another witness, Van Breen from Santa Clara, overheard him say he was very angry.
He evaded metal detectors and bag searches at the gate by cutting through the fence to gain entrance. The section he cut through ran next to the parking lot near a creek There weren’t any security cameras in operation.
The shooting happened as the festival was ending. A stage hand, Shawn Viaggi, recognized the loud pops as a real gun, hit the ground and then ran to escape. A teenager, Evenny Reyes, was just leaving when she spotted a “guy with a bandana on his leg because he got shot and people were on the ground crying”. People were throwing tables and cutting fences trying to escape.
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My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6,” Alberto Romero told the local news. “That’s all I can say.” Maribel Romero, grandmother to the slain Stephen Romero, just wants justice. He was “always kind, happy and, you know, playful,” she relates.
Those wounded were transported to various local hospitals, with conditions ranging from fair to critical. Some need surgery but at least five have already been released.
Gilroy lies 30 miles southeast of San Jose, and is the site of one of the largest food festivals in the country. Ever since 1979, the popular three day event typically includes bands, cooking competitions, food and drink. About 100,000 can be expected which is twice the small town’s 50,000 population.
President Donald Trump tweeted that law enforcement was on the scene and encouraged people to be careful and safe.
San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo tweeted as well, prayers for those affected by the shooting and promising continuing support.
The motive is yet unknown. FBI and BATF are investigating. Evidence was removed from his family home in Gilroy.
Legan left some clues on his Instagram page, just before the shooting. Photos with “disgruntled captions” were scrubbed Monday morning. Reuters reports that “the account only appeared to be a few days old, and was deactivated at some point on Monday morning.”
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“Ayyy garlic festival time,” accompanied a picture of people walking through the festival grounds. “Come get wasted on overpriced sh*t.”
Reuters further notes, “another photograph posted on Sunday showed a sign warning of a high danger of forest fires. Its caption urged people to read ‘Might is Right,’ a racist and sexist treatise written by the pseudonymous author Ragnar Redbeard in the late 19th century. ‘Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats?’