Police Say 2 Children, 1 Man Killed in Shooting at Gilroy Garlic Festival

People leave mementos at a makeshift memorial outside the site of the Gilroy Garlic Festival after a mass shooting took place at the event yesterday on July 29, 2019 in Gilroy. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Updated Monday 5:08 p.m.

Police said a shooter who opened fire on a crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, killing three people — including a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old-girl — legally bought his weapon in Nevada in early July.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee identified the suspected shooter as Santino William Legan, 19, of Gilroy. Smithee said the suspect used an SKS, an assault-type rifle purchased July 9 in Nevada.

Witnesses reported a second suspect, but it was unclear whether that person opened fire, Smithee said. The suspect or suspects appeared to have come into the festival through a nearby creek, cutting through a fence to access the event, Smithee said, to avoid security checkpoints.

One suspect opened fire and officers on scene at the festival responded in less than a minute, said Smithee. The suspect, who appeared to shoot at random, was shot and killed.

"Despite the fact that they were outgunned with their handguns against a rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound that suspect and the event ended very quickly," Smithee said.

The FBI said it was investigating a motive for the attack, which was unclear, as well as the suspect's possible ideology or affiliation with any groups.

Evaucees Jane and Edward Jacobucci wait on a chartered bus after leaving the scene of the deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Gilroy on July 28, 2019.
Evacuees Jane and Edward Jacobucci wait on a chartered bus after leaving the scene of the deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Gilroy on July 28, 2019. (PHILIP PACHECO/AFP/Getty Images)

Family members and authorities began to release the names of the three people killed on Monday:

  • Keyla Salazar, 13, of San Jose
  • Stephen Romero, 6, of San Jose
  • Trevor Irby, in his 20s, hometown unknown

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner/Coroner's Office confirmed the deaths of Salazar and Romero. Amy Storey, president of Keuka College in upstate New York, said Monday in a statement that Trevor Irby, a biology major who graduated in 2017, was among the Gilroy victims.

"My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6," his father, Alberto Romero, told NBC Bay Area. "That's all I can say."

About 20 people were treated at area hospitals, including Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, St. Louise Regional Hospital and Stanford Medical Center, where their conditions ranged from fair to critical, hospital spokespeople said. Many had been released by Monday morning.

'We Were All in Danger'

Witnesses reported confusion and panic as shots rang out around 5:40 p.m. at the festival, an annual family-friendly celebration of food and music that attracts around 100,000 people.

The band Tin Man was starting an encore when shots rang out.

"I was by the cook-off stage and it sounded like fireworks. You heard a little pop, pop and people just started yelling 'run, run,' " said Mark Guajardo, a Gilroy resident and bar manager. "We didn't know what was happening or where it was coming from."

Francisco Cruz remembered being next to the music stage when he heard a "bang."

Cruz said he was with about 20 family members, including some who were visiting from Mexico for his wedding last week, and he brought them to Gilroy to enjoy the festival.

“I saw this guy dressed up,” Cruz said. “I thought he was a sheriff because he was wearing a brown vest with the green pants and the hat.”

He recalled thinking the bullet was an accidental shot.

“But then when I saw him picking up the gun, and reloading the gun, that's when I knew what it was,” he said. “We were all in danger.”

Cruz grabbed his kids and started running.

“After we all took cover, the police got the guy and that's when we started looking for everybody,” he said.

His brother, sister and nieces were safe, but he found his cousin taking cover in nearby trees with a gunshot wound. She is being treated at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

“It's a nightmare. It's something we're never gonna forget,” Cruz said, speaking at the hospital. “I just wanted to show them the beautiful side of California.”

Video posted on social media showed people running for safety at the festival.

Ongoing Investigation

When asked about security measures for entering the festival, Smithee said they had "tight security," including searching bags and using wands on people.

"We had many, many officers in the park at the time that this occurred — as we do any day during festival — which accounts for the very, very quick response time," he said.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee (L) and Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco attend a press conference the day after a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 29, 2019 in Gilroy.
Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee (L) and Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco attend a press conference on July 29, 2019, the day after a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The department has set up a witness and family reunification phone line at 408-846-0583. Smithee said authorities were hoping to interview more witnesses about the possible second suspect.

"We believe, based on witness statements, that there was a second individual involved in some way. We just don't know in what way," Smithee said.

Monday morning, police searched the two-story Gilroy home of the suspect's family, less than a mile from the garlic festival, as well as a dusty car parked outside, leaving with paper bags and what appeared to be other evidence.

The Associated Press reported that the suspect purchased a gun similar to an AK-47 at Big Mike's Guns and Ammo in Nevada, where the legal age limit for purchasing firearms is 18. The age limit is 21 in California.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting
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Big Mike's posted on the shop's Facebook page that the gunman appeared happy and presented "no reasons for concern" when he appeared in person to pick up the gun, which had been purchased online. The posted signed by "Mike" said, "We feel so very sorry for the Families, I am heartbroken this could ever happen."

It is not yet clear whether the sale of the rifle used to commit the shootings was lawful, but it is generally illegal to import into California or possess assault weapons without a special permit, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco declared a local emergency to allow the city to request personnel and equipment, while tracking expenses that the state could reimburse.

"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," he said on Facebook.

Gilroy, a city of about 50,000 about 80 miles south of San Francisco, calls itself the "Garlic Capital of the World."  The annual festival is a three-day celebration featuring garlic as a key ingredient, and Sunday was the final day of this year's event.

"You go there to have fun, to take your family, eat and drink and have a great time," Guajardo said. "I'm still in shock that this happened, and I'm pretty sad this happened in our community."

Several elected officials tweeted about the news Sunday night, including President Trump. "Law Enforcement is at the scene of shootings in Gilroy, California. Reports are that shooter has not yet been apprehended. Be careful and safe!" he wrote.

Sen. Kamala Harris also tweeted, "Our country has a gun violence epidemic that we can not tolerate."

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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