Gunman who killed 3 at Gilroy Garlic Festival identified as Santino William Legan, 19

GILROY, Calif. – Authorities in California on Monday identified Santino William Legan, 19, as the gunman whose rampage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival left three people dead and at least a dozen injured.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee confirmed the identity of the shooter, saying he entered the festival Sunday with an "AK-47-type assault rifle," cutting through a fence to avoid metal detectors and other security. He appeared to shoot randomly for less than a minute before three officers confronted him, Smithee said.

Legan was killed in the ensuing shootout, he said. Smithee lauded his officers, noting they were armed only with handguns.

"I cannot tell you how proud I am of our officers for being able to engage this guy as quickly they did," he said. "We had thousands of people there in a small area. It could have gone so much worse so fast."

The gun was purchased legally in Nevada this month, Smithee said. The victims included a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s, he said.

It's unclear whether Legan lived in Nevada or California in the months leading up to the shooting, Smithee said at an afternoon press conference. Search warrants had been served in both states as part of the investigation, law enforcement officials said.

Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies rush to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California on July 29, 2019.
Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies rush to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California on July 29, 2019.

Five people injured in the shooting are being cared for at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. They include one who is in critical condition, one in serious condition and one in fair condition, hospital spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said Monday afternoon. The families of the two others have asked that no information about them be released.

No motive for the shooting had been identified, he said.

FBI Special Agent Craig Fair said the agency was investigating the motive. He said ideological leanings were among factors to be reviewed.

The gunman appears to have posted two photos to his Instagram the day of the festival, including one minutes before he started shooting. His since-deleted account's profile described him as Italian and Iranian.

3 dead in festival rampage: What we know about Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting

The first photo that day was of Smokey the Bear in front of a "fire danger" sign. The caption urges people to read "Might is Right," a book written in the 1800s that considers those strongest to be morally right. Legan's second post was at the festival with the caption “Ayyy garlic festival time come get wasted on overpriced (stuff).”

President Donald Trump briefly discussed the shooting Monday at the White House, saying everyone should pray for the victims, including a 6-year-old boy.

"A wicked murderer opened fire and killed three innocent citizens including a young child," Trump said. "We thank the brave members of law enforcement, they never let us down."

Smithee said authorities were trying to confirm claims by some witnesses of a second shooter or accomplice.

The band TinMan had been playing when the shooting started, and singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief fire into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle. He and other members of the band dived for cover.

Van Breen said he heard someone shout, “Why are you doing this?” and the reply: “Because I’m really angry.”

Alberto Romero told The Mercury News he was home with his 9-year-old daughter when his wife called him from the festival. She said "they shot my son," Stephen Romero, and that she had also been wounded in the rampage.

Romero rushed to St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy, a town of less than 60,000 people 85 miles southeast of San Francisco.

“They told me he was in critical condition, that they were working on him,” Romero said. “Five minutes later, they told me he was dead.”

6-year-old victim: 'They shot my son': Stephen Romero was fatally shot, dad says

His wife was placed in a medically induced coma at a hospital in San Jose, he said. His mother-in-law was also wounded and was in the hospital.

The festival is a tradition in the region and drew about 80,000 people last year. More than 4,000 volunteers make the fest possible, and the smell of garlic is everywhere. Donna Carlson of Reno, Nevada, said she was as helping a friend at a jewelry booth when the shooting started.

“All of a sudden it was 'pop, pop, pop.' And I said, ‘I sure hope that’s fireworks.’” She got on her hands and knees and hid behind a table until police told her it was safe to leave.

The sound of "pop pop pop" was a recurring theme among witnesses. Miquita Price said she was eating at a table when she heard a muffled "pop pop pop."

"Everybody started screaming," she told CNN, and added that she, her husband and others dived on to the ground. When the gunman briefly stopped shooting, they ran.

"A voice came in my head told me if I did not get off this ground I would lose my life," she said.

From when the shots rang out, San Jose-based artist Neil Viegas, 32, was out helping other survivors. His parents live close to the Gilroy park, so he had gathered a group of people and escaped home after the shooter had started firing about 10 feet from his art booth. They made their way through the amphitheater and briefly hiked on trails to get out.

On Monday, though, he and other vendors still had trouble getting into the park to collect his car and belongings, including keys to his house. He was told it may be a week before he gets into his car.

The festival's organizers issued a statement of support for those affected "by this horrific event." They pledged all resources available to support the community and law enforcement.

"We are truly grateful to the Gilroy Police Department, who responded immediately to prevent further loss of life, and to the hundreds of other first responders from regional and federal agencies who have provided additional support," the statement said. "We are also thankful for the thoughts and prayers and outpouring of support from people all over the world.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom was among officials who showed support on social media.

"This is nothing short of horrific," he tweeted. "CA stands with the Gilroy community."

Bacon reported from McLean, Virginia.

Contributing: Vandana Ravikumar, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting: Santino William Legan ID'd as gunman