Gilroy Garlic Festival gunman used a rifle banned in California, officials say

Police officers escort people from Christmas Hill Park on Sunday night following the shooting.
Police officers escort people from Christmas Hill Park on Sunday night following the shooting.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
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The gunman in the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting used a military-style semiautomatic rifle that is illegal to own in California, although authorities have not yet publicly identified the specific type of weapon, according to officials Monday.

Authorities initially said the weapon used was the WASR-10, a Romanian-built weapon that looks like an AK-47 and is considered an assault rifle under California law and therefore banned.

However, Monday evening, they corrected that statement and said the rifle the gunman used was an “AK-47 variant,” modeled after the original Russian weapon. A federal weapons expert was not familiar with the company that manufactured the rifle, said San Jose Fire Department spokesman Mitch Matlow.


Authorities say Santino William Legan, 19, bought the weapon earlier this year legally in Nevada.

On Monday, Mineral County sheriff’s deputies helped FBI agents search a residence in Walker Lake, Nev., believed to be linked to Legan.

In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown enacted a law requiring anyone who buys a firearm out of state and brings it into California after Jan. 1, 2015, to have it delivered to licensed California dealer and file a report with the state Department of Justice documenting the purchase.

It is the velocity of the round with the rifle that gives it the deadly power.

FULL COVERAGE: The Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

AB 1609 requires a 10-day waiting period and a background check. Violations are a misdemeanor for long guns, and felonies for handguns.

The law exempts people who have obtained specified Justice Department permits to deliver weapons from the requirements imposed by this bill.


Former Assemblyman Luis A. Alejo (D-Salinas), who wrote the law, had said, “I support the 2nd Amendment, but I have seen too many families torn apart by criminal behavior involving firearms. I am not going to sit by idly and wait for more.”

Times staff writer Laura J. Nelson contributed to this report from Gilroy, Calif.