GILROY (KRON) – A 6-year-old boy described by his grandmother as always kind and happy was one of three people killed and at least 15 others injured when a gunman heard to be “really angry” opened fire during the closing moments of a popular weekend garlic festival in Northern California.
Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said the gunman was armed with a rifle and sneaked in through a fence that borders a parking lot next to a creek.
He appeared to randomly target people when he opened fire just after 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the conclusion of the three-day festival that attracts more than 100,000 people to the city known as the “Garlic Capital of the World.”
The gunman has been identified as Santino William Legan.
In a media briefing Monday morning, police said the gunman had an assault rifle – an AK-47 – that was purchased legally in Nevada on July 9 of this year.
Police said he fired at officers before he was fatally shot.
The motive remains unknown at this time.
Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco issued an emergency proclamation early Monday following the shooting, noting that it would allow the city to request personnel and equipment and help the city get reimbursed by the state for expenses related to the response and investigation.
“This is critically important since we have police, fire and FBI personnel that will remain on-scene for the next few days processing the crime scene,” Velasco said in a Facebook post.
3 victims identified
Among the victims was 6-year-old Stephen Romero, who was attending the festival with his mother and grandmother. His mother was also shot and is recovering at a local hospital; she is expected to survive.
“This is really hard, there’s no words to describe (it),” Romero’s grandmother said. “He was such a happy kid, I don’t think that this is fair.”
“I just hope there is justice and they catch the last person or the other person and that there’s justice. I want justice for my grandson,” she added.
“My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6,” his father Alberto Romero said. “That’s all I can say.”
A 13-year-old girl was also killed in the shooting.
The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office identified the 13-year-old victim as Keyla Salazar, of San Jose, Monday afternoon.
The president of Keuka College in New York identified one of the victims as Trevor Irby, a man in his 20s.
Irby was a biology major who graduated in 2017. According to Irby’s Facebook page, he also graduated from Romulus High School.
Those injured are being treated at St. Louise Regional Hospital, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and Stanford Hospital.
Officers confronted suspect in minutes
Smithee says police responded within a minute, engaged the suspect and killed him.
“It appears as though they (suspect) had come into the festival via the creek which borders a parking area and they used some sort of a tool to cut through the fence,” Smithee said. “That’s how they got into the festival area itself.”
Police recovered a firearm and rifle ammunition from the shooting scene, a law enforcement source told CNN.
The shooter had “some sort of a rifle,” Smithee said during a Sunday night press conference.
As of now, it appears, the suspect was firing at random as he moved into the festival, the chief said.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, officers were searching the shooter’s car located in Gilroy.
The FBI Evidence Response Team from San Francisco arrived on scene late Sunday night, a law enforcement official told CNN.
ATF’s San Francisco Field Division is also assisting in the case.
“It is 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 said.
Second possible suspect
Authorities say the crime scene is still active and they are investigating the possibility of a second suspect.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, police said a man posted to social media about shooting up the “GFest” and was taken into custody.
Gilroy’s police chief said the man was not involved in the deadly shooting and said he thought it would be a “fun way to get attention.”
As of Monday at 4 p.m., the police chief said investigators had not made progress on a possible second suspect and they’re no closer to determining whether there was actually a second suspect.
Thousands were at the event
The festival attracts about 100,000 people annually, based on attendance records.
There’s food, live music, cooking competitions and thousands of community volunteers who bring it all together.
Gilroy is the self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world.The event has helped raise “millions of dollars for local schools, charities and non-profit organizations,” the festival’s website says.
“There was blood everywhere,” says eyewitness
Edward and Jane Jacobucci said they were standing at their booth selling garlic graters when the shooting started Sunday afternoon at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
Edward Jacobucci said the shooting was “absolute chaos.” ”It happened right in front of our booth,” he said.
Jane Jacobucci described the shooter as a tall, thin young man in camouflage with a big gun.
She said her husband threw her to the ground when the shooting started.
“It was frightening. There was blood everywhere. It, it was a mess. I’ve never seen nothing like that in my life,” eyewitness Miquita Price told CNN.
Police identified the gunman as 19-year-old Santino William Legan.
Police said Legan was heard to be “really angry” as he opened fire at random with an assault-style rifle.
The SKS, an “AK-47 type” rifle, was purchased legally in Nevada on July 9 at at in Fallon, Nevada.
Legan appears to have posted two photos on Instagram the day of the shooting, including one just minutes before he opened fire.
Legan’s since-deleted Instagram account showed a photo he posted earlier depicting Smokey the Bear in front of a “fire danger” sign.
In the caption, Legan said to read “Might is Right,” a book published in the 1800s. The philosophy says that whoever is strongest is morally right.
Minutes before the shooting, he posted a photo from the festival: “Ayyy garlic festival time” and “come get wasted on overpriced (stuff).”
How politicians responded
President Donald Trump is condemning the “wicked murderer,” saying the nation would “grieve” for the victims’ families and “ask that God comfort them.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted on Monday, “Our thoughts are with the families of those lost last night in Gilroy, CA, as well as the survivors facing a tough road ahead. But thoughts are not enough — action must be taken to #EndGunViolence. Every day the Senate refuses to act is a stain on the conscience of our nation.”
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for change.
“Sending love to all who are hurting tonight — and all who are affected by the 40,000 gun deaths in America each year. We can accept this as our fate or we can change it. Following the lead of the students marching for their lives, and for all of ours, I know we can end this crisis,” he said on Twitter.
California Sen.Kamala Harris also weighed in, saying she was “grateful to first responders who are on the scene in Gilroy and keeping those injured by such senseless violence in my thoughts.”
“My office is closely monitoring the situation,” she tweeted.
Late Sunday night, Former Vice President Joe Biden said “this violence is not normal.”
“How many more families will have to lose a loved one before we fix our broken gun laws? We must take action, starting with real reform. Our thoughts are with everyone in Gilroy this evening. Enough is enough,” he said.
SWAT came to home of shooter’s family
A woman who lives across the street from the family of Legan says SWAT officers came to their home.
Jan Dickson says the officers ordered those inside to come out with their hands up Sunday night and one person did. She says the parents had four boys: one who’s a boxer and another who’s a runner.
Dickson said Monday that they were “a nice, normal family.” She says Santino William Legan hadn’t lived there for at least a year.
Police are urging the public to phone in tips or any relevant information at 408-846-0583.
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