It was near the end of the annual garlic festival in Gilroy, California, yesterday, when a gunman opened fire in a shooting that left three people dead, including a 6-year-old boy.
Today, Chief Scot Smithee of the Gilroy Police Department identified the gunman as Santino William Legan, 19, and said he carried out the shooting with an AK-47-type assault weapon that he had purchased legally this month in Nevada.
He said the gunman’s motive was not known, but that he had condemned mixed races in a recent Instagram post, and recommended a fringe white supremacist book.
The chief said those killed were a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s.
The boy, Stephen Romero, was shot in the back, said his father, Alberto.
Romero’s wife, who was shot in the stomach and mother-in-law, who was shot in the leg were among a dozen people wounded in the attack at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
“My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6,” Romero said in an emotional statement.
Romero said he was at home with his 9-year-old daughter when he got the call about the shooting.
He was also told that Stephen had been playing at an inflatable bounce house.
“They told me he was in critical condition, that they were working on him,” he told The Mercury News. “And then five minutes later they told me he was dead.”
The shooting happened around 5:40 p.m. local time and the police responded within one minute, Chief Smithee said.
To reach the festival, the suspect appeared to have crossed a bordering creek and cut a perimeter fence, he said in a Sunday night news conference.
“It’s sort of a nightmare you hope you never have to live in reality,” the chief said.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual three-day event held at Christmas Hill Park.
Gilroy, a city of about 60,000 people, is a major producer of garlic and is home to agricultural workers and people who commute to technology jobs.
The festival’s executive director, Brian Bowe, said at a news conference that for several decades the event had acted as a kind of family reunion, and that the shooting was “a sad, horribly upsetting circumstance.”
Videos posted on social media showed attendees running past white tents in a grassy field, apparently fleeing.
#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
— isaac guardado (@NstySeaL) July 29, 2019
yo somebody was shooting at the gilroy garlic festival. be safe pic.twitter.com/B39ZIYe8wr
— niah ㊝ (@wavyia) July 29, 2019
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) July 29, 2019
Gilroy Police Chief Smithee said as soon as Legan saw his officers, he fired at them and they fired back.
The police used handguns versus an assault rifle.
“Despite being outgunned,” he said, officers were able to stop him by shooting him dead. It’s reported he was shot in the head.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am,” he said. “We had thousands of people there in a small area (and) it could have been much worse.”
The shooter had posted on Instagram about a fringe white supremacist book written in 1890.
Noted anarchist, revisionist historian and Holocaust denier James J. Martin called, the book, “…one of the most incendiary works ever to be published anywhere.”
Legan quoted from the book in a post accompanied by a Smokey the Bear sign about fire danger.
Legan wrote: “Read Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard. Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats?”
Mestizos is a derogatory term used to describe someone of mixed descent, but specifically white and Hispanic and/or white and Native Indian.
According to the book Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Subculture, Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard was authored under a pseudonym.
It is purported to expand on Friedrich Nietzsche’s “theories of master–slave morality and herd mentality …”
The book is described as being akin to Social Darwinism and includes misogynistic and racist principles “claiming that the woman and the family as a whole is the property of the man and proclaiming the innate superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race.
The book also contains many strong anti-Semitic statements.