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The man who killed three people after opening fire on the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California last weekend wasn’t taken down by police officers, as they initially said. Instead, he killed himself, according to the coroner’s report.
The Santa Clara Coroner’s office determined Friday that the 19-year-old shooter inserted his own assault-style rifle in his mouth and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound as police began to engage him. The medical examiner’s findings, which have not been completed, contradict the initial statements from local police that officers on the scene were the ones who neutralized the shooter within a minute of the first shot fired.
During a press conference last Monday, the day after the shooting, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee told reporters that “officers were able to fatally wound” the gunman. After the coroner’s report dropped, however, Smithee acknowledged that the shooter killed himself — but also said the coroner’s report “doesn’t change anything about the heroics” of the officers who responded.
"The suspect was hit multiple times by the rounds that our officers fired, which put him down," Smithee said during a press conference on Friday. "Whether he was able to get a shot off into his head at some point after we shot him doesn't change the series of events that occurred at the scene. The officers still got there fast."
The shooter sneaked into the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28 by cutting a hole in a nearby fence that gated off the public gathering. He then fired an AK-47-style rifle into the crowd of festival attendees, injuring 13 and killing three: 25-year-old Trevor Irby, 13-year-old Keyla Salazer, and 6-year-old Stephen Romero.
Authorities later connected the shooter to the growing wave of white supremacy on the internet. He posted a white supremacist image on his own Instagram account prior to the July shooting.
Though the Gilroy gunman left behind proof of his extremist beliefs, officials are still looking for a clear motive in the shooting, which was the 246th mass shooting in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Cover image: Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee speaks at a press conference following a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, at Gavilan College in Gilroy, Calif., Sunday, July 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)