Law enforcement has identified the Gilroy Garlic festival shooter as a 19-year-old who is responsible for the deaths of three people, including a six-year-old boy, as he fired bullets indiscriminately into the crowd. Fifteen others were taken to nearby hospitals.
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On Sunday evening around 6 pm, 19-year-old Santino William Legan reportedly used bolt cutters to enter from a side entrance of the California festival in order to avoid the metal detectors. Some witnesses allegedly asked the shooter why he wanted to kill them, and he responded by saying he was “really angry.”
Cheryl Low said the 19-year-old was stoic as he shot into the crowd. “He didn’t say anything, nothing. He did not even look from side to side. He just kept looking forward,” she told ABC News.
Police have said that the firearm used by the shooter was a legally purchased “AK type rifle”. Some reports are saying it was an SKS, a semi-auto rifle with a fixed 10 round magazine, but these are unconfirmed. Some examples of the rifle are even considered to be curios and relics under US law.
Many media agencies have mistakenly reported the rifle as an AK-47, which is a fully automatic, military rifle. Automatic weapons in the United States are heavily regulated and new automatic weapons have not been sold to the public since 1986 and grandfathered automatic rifles are exceedingly rare and fetch tens of thousands of dollars as collector items when they are offered for sale. Much in the same way that an AR-15 is not an M4 or a M-16, a semi-automatic AK style rifle is not an AK-47.
One witness told the media he moved efficiently like a “police officer” might do. “He was walking like a police officer. Like he wanted to get stuff done,” a festival worker recalled.
“He shot one child and then he put the clip in and he just started moving back and forth walking toward the tents because that’s where most of the people were in that area and he started shooting,” Low added.
Within minutes of the shooting, officers surrounded the suspect and shot and killed him. According to witnesses, the shooter was wearing military fatigues and was armed with a semi-auto weapon. He also was wearing a scarf around his neck.
The man did not draw attention to himself until he started firing, one witness told the Daily Mail. Countless videos have been posted on social media outlets. One, in particular, shows the moment the shooting starts.
#BREAKING: Video shows moment gunman opens fire on Gilroy garlic festival Sunday evening; 4 people killed (including suspected gunman), 15 others injured. [Warning: Potentially-distressing footage] #GilroyGarlicFestival #GilroyActiveshooter pic.twitter.com/Qiv7GW3j4V
— California Brief (@CaliforniaBrief) July 29, 2019
One woman can be heard yelling: “What’s going on? Who’d shoot up a garlic festival?” Among the three victims was a six-year-old Stephen Romero, who was attending the festival with his mother when he was shot and killed.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening, that what she was saying was a lie, that maybe I was dreaming,” Alberto, the child’s father, said after hearing the news of his son’s death. “He was joyful, always wanted to play, always positive,” he added.
Initial reports speculated that the shooter had an accomplice, but that has yet to be substantiated. Law enforcement raided the shooter’s home Sunday night to collect evidence and to attempt to determine why he killed three innocent people and injured 15 more.