A 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s were shot and killed by a teenager from Gilroy on the last evening of the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, city officials reported Monday.
The suspect is 19-year-old Santino William Legan, Gilroy police Chief Scot Smithee confirmed during a news conference Monday morning. Legan was shot and killed by officers less than a minute after they responded to initial reports of the shooting at 5:42 p.m. Twelve people were hospitalized, in addition to the shooter and the three deceased victims.
San Jose City Councilwoman Maya Esparza said in a Facebook post Monday that the 6-year-old victim, Stephen Romero of San Jose, was her cousin. “Heartache and prayers for my cousins who were wounded yesterday and losing my little cousin, only 6 years old,” she wrote. “And I’m angry, so angry. This violence has to stop. How do some people have such little regard for life.”
A GoFundMe page started by the South County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram car dealership on behalf of Romero’s family had raised nearly $14,000 as of midday Monday. The fundraising page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/stephen-romero.
The Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office has not yet confirmed the identities of the two other victims.
Between 80,000 to 100,000 people attend the world-renowned festival every year. This year marked the 41st annual celebration, with cooking competitions and concerts for three days beginning on Friday. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Gilroy City Council members and Mayor Roland Velasco were gathered at police headquarters for the Monday morning news conference, organized by San Jose Fire Capt. Mitch Matlow.
“Mass gun violence is an epidemic in the United States and yet, one never imagined such a thing could happen here, in our beautiful community.”Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco
Velasco continued, calling it “beyond sad” that a shooting happened at a charitable event with thousands of volunteers and tens of thousands in revenue for local nonprofits. “We are resilient and we will get through this,” the mayor said.
Over 20 agencies responded to the shooting due to the scope of the investigation. Craig Fair, deputy special agent in charge for the FBI, said the crime scene spans several acres — much larger than officers initially believed. The investigation is ongoing and the FBI is currently working to determine if the suspect was affiliated with any terrorist groups.
Legan bought an AK-47-style rifle legally in Nevada on July 9 and entered the garlic festival by cutting through a fence, according to police. They have not yet established a motive for the shooting, but said he grew up in Gilroy and most recently lived in the city with family members. “I don’t believe someone like this deserves the notoriety or the recognition,” Smithee said as he confirmed the suspect’s identity. Officers are currently investigating witness accounts of a second shooter, but said they don’t know if these reports are true.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting Sunday, asking everyone to stay “careful and safe.” Singer Colbie Callait, who performed with her band at the festival Saturday, said she was heartbroken by the violence. “Last night I was performing there with @gonewestmusic wearing garlic hats on our heads and it was peaceful, filled with a beauty & lovely audience,” she wrote. “It’s unbelievable that such a thing could occur less than 24 hours later, let alone that these shootings are now a regular occurrence. My heart is with you.”