Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee with some of the city councilmembers at the July 29 press conference discusses the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Police are searching for a second suspect in the deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival that left four people dead – including the gunman — and 15 injured.

Among the dead are a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and a man in his 20s, according to Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee.

There were reports by several witnesses of a second person involved that are being investigated today, Smithee said.

Stephen Romero, age 6, was killed during the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting Sunday July 28.

“There’s no belief he did any shooting, but we are investigating any role he may have played,” Smithee said.

The incident began at 5:42 p.m. Sunday just before closing time on the third and final day of the 41st annual festival when the gunman used some sort of tool to cut a hole in a fence near a creek to gain access to the north-side of the festival, police said. Witnesses described the gunman as shooting randomly into the crowd.

Gilroy police patrolling the festival were on the scene about a minute after calls reporting the active shooter came into 911, and quickly engaged the suspect, identified as 19-year-old Santino William Legan. Three officers with handguns, despite being outgunned, opened fire and fatally wounded Legan, Smithee said.

“I’m really proud of our officers,” Smithee said. “It could have gotten worse really quick.

The AK-47 type assault rifle used in the shooting was purchased legally by Legan in Nevada, July 9 of this year.

Jack Van Breen, the guitar player for Tin Man and the assistant manager at Guitar Showcase, saw the shooter after he emerged from the creek and into the festival grounds.

“We just started an encore when I heard ‘pop-pop’ and thought ‘that’s not normal,’” he said. “I looked over my left shoulder and saw the gunman wearing a green shirt, a bandana around his neck and a ballcap, carrying the gun. There was nobody close to him and his demeanor was intense and a little angry. He started shooting into the dining area. He seemed intent on shooting and killing people.”

The band members cleared the stage and hid under it, except for the drummer who hid behind the drum kit riser. After officers found them, they directed them and others to the beer area where they hid behind beer trucks, before they were led to the Amphitheater Stage.

There, vendors handed out free water, Gatorade and pepper steak sandwiches.

“It was horrific,” Van Breen said. “There was a lot of bonding between the people there.”

He also said first responders were helpful and compassionate and appreciated their professionalism.

“When you’re in the middle of it, it seemed like to took forever (for police to get there),” he said. “But it only took 60 seconds.”

Van Breen said if there are any fundraising events planned for the families, Tin Man would love to participate.

And, when asked if they would return for a fourth straight year playing Sunday evening if asked, he said: “In a heartbeat.”

Early this morning, police searched a home on Churchill Place where Legan apparently lived about a mile and a half from Christmas Hill Park, the site of the festival.

They took several evidence bags from the home and searched a Nissan Altima parked in front of the home.

About 30 FBI agents are assisting because of the size of the crime scene that encompasses several acres, said Craig Fair, deputy special agent in charge from the San Francisco office.

In addition to helping collect evidence, FBI agents are looking into Legan’s motivation and whether or not he had any ideological leanings.

“We appreciate your patience,” Fair said. “(The investigation) is done very slowly and methodically.”

That means vendors and people who fled for their lives may not be able to retrieve their belonging or their vehicles at least through today.

“For four decades this festival has been our family reunion,” said Brian Bowe, festival director. “Four thousand local volunteers work hard every year and to see the event end this way today is one of the most tragic events. It’s a horrible thing to experience.”

Mayor Roland Velasco said Gilroy is strong and resilient.

“We will mourn, but get through it,” Velasco said. “It’s a tragedy and very long night cannot erase.”


The Festival issue this press release on July 29, 2019:

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A statement regarding the tragic shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

July 29, 2019 (Gilroy, CA): The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association and the entire community of Gilroy are devastated by the shooting yesterday afternoon on the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and everyone affected by this horrific event. We are offering any and all resources available to support our community and law enforcement. We ask for your prayers and understanding at this incredibly difficult time.

At a press conference Sunday evening, Brian Bowe, Executive Director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, said, “Gilroy is an amazing, tightly-knit community. We are family. We have had the wonderful opportunity in this community to celebrate our family through our Garlic Festival, and for over four decades that festival has been our annual family reunion. It’s such a sad, just horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of this year’s festival,” Bowe told reporters.

Shawn Keck, President of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival, spoke in support of the more than 4,000 volunteers who worked to organize and host the annual festival. “We are heartbroken that senseless violence brought this year’s festival to such a terrible and tragic end. 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. We are also thankful for the thoughts and prayers and outpouring of support from people all over the world.”

If you are a witness with information about the shooting, please call the witness hotline at 408-846-0583. If you are seeking information about a loved one, please call the reunification hotline at 408-846-0584. A media line has also been established by the Gilroy Police Department at 408-842-0432.

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Robert Airoldi

Editor at Gilroy Life
Robert Airoldi is the editor of Gilroy Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at editor@gilroylife.com.
Robert Airoldi