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What We Know About the Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooter

He bought a gun legally, brought it into California illegally, and used it to kill children.

by Tim Marcin
Jul 30 2019, 1:11pm

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Santino William Legan killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy, and injured at least a dozen others when he snuck a rifle into the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday and opened fire.

Legan was shot dead by police — who were already in the area, allowing them to respond within minutes — before he could hurt more people. Many of the details of his life are hazy, but a picture of the young man is beginning to emerge, including the fact that the 19-year-old had posted about racist manifestos online shortly before the shooting.

Here’s what we know about Legan and the shooting so far.

Why did he do it?

Police are still working on determining Logan’s motive. "It seems this was a random act, but we've got a long way to go before we can determine what his motivations were," said Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee in a press conference Monday.

However, Legan wrote racist and angry posts in the lead-up to the shooting. NBC News reported he posted approvingly of a racist 1890 manifesto called “Might is Right or The Survival of the Fittest,” which is a staple among white supremacists. On Instagram, he posted slurs about multi-racial people, and misogynistic complaints about Silicon Valley workers “overcrowding” towns.

Legan wrote an Instagram post shortly before the attack that read: “Ayyy garlic festival time Come get wasted on overpriced shit.”

Who are the victims?

Legan killed three people on Sunday, two of whom were children attending a family-friendly event. The victims have been identified by USA Today as 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby.

“Any time a life is lost, it’s a tragedy,” Smithee said at a press conference Monday. “But when it’s young people, it’s even worse. It’s very difficult.”

At least a dozen others were injured and survived, including a 3-year-old girl, a child who was shot in the leg. Romero’s mother and grandmother were also wounded.

READ: Gunman kills 3, including 6-year-old boy, at California food festival

How did he get the gun?

Police said Legan purchased the gun legally in Nevada on July 9. It was an SKS, which authorities described as an “AK-47-type” weapon. It’s illegal to own the gun in California, even if it was purchased legally in another state.

The owner of Big Mike's Guns and Ammo, where Legan bought his weapon, posted on Facebook that he's "heartbroken" over the shooting and that the suspect should "rot in hell."

"I have always said we will sell to good people and have done everything we can to make sure this happens. We obey the Laws, We are a small home business, we sell to people who we think are upstanding citizens to promote safe sport shooting," he wrote. "I pray to God for all the families."

The festival had metal detectors, but authorities suspect Legan got around them by cutting a hole through a fence, CNN reported. Some witnesses described seeing a second suspect with Legan, but police are not sure if that person even exists.

"We've had multiple reports but different people give different versions so we don't know at this point," Smithee said of the possibility of a second suspect.

READ: People went nuts trying to buy ammo before California’s background check law kicked in

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom railed against the “weapons of mass destruction” and said the Republican Party was “morally bankrupt” for refusing to pass laws that prevent people from owning the kinds of firearms used most often in mass shootings.

"California’s doing its part," Newsom said on Monday. "But, Jesus, these guys, the folks in the White House, have been supporting the kind of policies to roll back the work we’re doing in states like ours, to get rid of large-capacity magazines, to address the issues that we’re trying to advance on background checks on ammunition."

“He was difficult to manage”

Legan was from Gilroy but had been living in Nevada. Authorities reportedly searched a Walker Lake, Nevada home where Legan stayed to gather more information about him.

People who went to school with Legan described him as normal, while one former employee of the school said he was a problem student with a history of conflict. "When he chose to come to campus, he was difficult to manage," the unnamed employee of Gilroy High School said to CNN, which granted the employee anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the subject.

Cover: Robbie Ramirez, 10, holds onto his father, Robert Ramirez, during a vigil for victims of a Sunday evening shooting that left three people dead at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Monday, July 29, 2019, in Gilroy, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

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