Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, July 30, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
Before 5:30 p.m. Sunday — as the final day of an annual food festival that had drawn tens of thousands was wrapping up — Gilroy was still a place known for garlic, if you knew Gilroy at all.
It took just under a minute and a semiautomatic rifle for a 19-year-old man to take three lives and transform Gilroy into the latest byword in an unholy litany: the names of communities brutalized by mass shootings.
In news both devastating and deadeningly unsurprising, a garlic festival had joined the long list of quotidian places (bar, movie theater, newsroom, yoga studio, houses of worship, too many campuses to count) where one can take a bullet at random in America.
Two children, a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were among those killed Sunday in Gilroy.
The 6-year-old boy’s name was Stephen Romero, but some family members dubbed him “El Romantico” for his polished manners and fondness for pressed button-down shirts. “He wouldn’t leave the house unless he had cologne on,” his uncle told the San Francisco Chronicle from the driveway of the boy’s San Jose home. Romero’s mother and grandmother were both injured in the shooting. Friends of the boy’s family have set up a GoFundMe page to assist with expenses.
Keyla Salazar, the 13-year-old victim, was also of San Jose. She would have turned 14 this Sunday, and her mom and stepdad were planning to get her a puppy for her birthday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Officials at Keuka College in New York identified the third victim as school graduate Trevor Irby, 25, of Romulus, N.Y. Irby had been living in Santa Cruz with his girlfriend, according to a memorial GoFundMe page set up by his former college housemates.
Gilroy police officers were patrolling the festival at the time that the gunman, Santino William Legan, started firing. Three officers began shooting at him less than a minute after he opened fire and he was fatally shot by police. By the time the shooting stopped, four people — including the gunman — were dead, and at least 12 others were injured.
California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and the military-style semiautomatic rifle used by the gunman is illegal to own in California. Authorities say that the gunman legally purchased the weapon this year in Nevada. His motive remains unclear, though he did use his Instagram account earlier in the day on Sunday to promote a book that has been tied to white supremacist movements.
More coverage on the shooting:
- What we know about the shooting suspect. Los Angeles Times
- The Gilroy shooting happened despite strict California gun laws. What more can state lawmakers do? Sacramento Bee
- The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting has thrust Nevada’s gun laws into the spotlight. Reno Gazette Journal
- The creator of “Dilbert” has been widely denounced for using the shooting to push his new app on social media. San Francisco Chronicle
- “Everything was surreal.” A photographer for the Gilroy Dispatch reflects on tragedy and the national media invading his small town, and on being both a community member and local press. Poynter
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Hundreds of homeless individuals board a bus out of San Francisco every year. What happens next? San Francisco’s program to bus homeless people out of the city has undoubtedly saved lives. But, for others, the program has led them right back where they started. San Francisco Chronicle
Los Angeles city computers were breached last week in a data theft potentially involving the personal information of about 20,000 applicants to the police department, including hundreds who are now sworn officers. The cyberattack highlights the vulnerability of government computer systems. Los Angeles Times
In his latest column, Frank Shyong writes about the enclave economy, Korean barbecue and all the widespread, long-standing illegal labor practices that make our food cheap and our restaurants plentiful. Los Angeles Times
The pedal boats at Echo Park Lake are operating at night, for the first time in recent memory. Eastsider LA
Lori Loughlin’s daughters (including influencer Olivia Jade) have returned to Instagram, five months after their parents were charged in the college admissions scandal. Los Angeles Magazine
Alex Canter, heir to one of Los Angeles’ most dominant delicatessens, has raised $18 million in funding to expand his online food ordering and delivery platform. Los Angles Business Journal
The Beverly Hills School District has spent $15.7 million on legal efforts to block or alter the route of the Purple Line Extension subway. A citizens’ committee is questioning the school district’s use of voter-approved bond money to fund those lawsuits. Curbed LA
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
The San Joaquin Valley is home to some of the hardest-to-count communities in the country. What will it take to achieve an accurate census in 2020? Valley Public Radio
The Delano City Council rejected a resolution to adopt “In God We Trust” as the city’s official motto. The decision came after several hours of fierce debate. The Kern County city, which is about 31 miles from Bakersfield, previously approved a proposal to add the motto to decals on police cars. Delano Record
A San Francisco supervisor publicly confronted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz about border policy after crossing paths with him at Los Angeles International Airport. Mission Local
CRIME AND COURTS
Charges have been filed against the suspect in the San Fernando Valley shooting rampage that left four dead last week. Los Angeles Times
Three pharmaceutical companies will pay the state of California a total of nearly $70 million to settle allegations that they violated antitrust laws by making agreements to delay generic drugs from entering the market. Los Angeles Times
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
A Monterey Bay viral photo captured a sea lion in the mouth of a lunging humpback whale. Sacramento Bee
From early March to late October, this rattlesnake wrangler is constantly on call.San Francisco Chronicle
Lotusland, a spectacular Montecito estate often hailed as one of the must-see gardens of the world, has finally reopened its beloved Japanese garden after years of renovations. Tickets remain a prized commodity. Los Angeles Times
San Francisco’s 100-year-old Tosca Cafe has closed while owner April Bloomfield seeks a new buyer for the storied North Beach destination across the street from City Lights bookstore. San Francisco Chronicle
The San Bernardino city of Redlands had its first Pride festival this weekend. Here’s a look at it. Riverside Press-Enterprise
Olive growing remains in sharp decline across Kern County, but rising demand for olive oil could lead to a rebirth in production. Bakersfield Californian
A look at Native American enrollment in California’s community college system since the 1990s. LAist
Welcome to the age of the “regreditorial": a brief chronological timeline of tech leaders and employees apologizing for what they have wrought. Vox
Los Angeles: sunny, 83. San Diego: sunny, 73. San Francisco: partly sunny, 64. San Jose:: partly sunny, 75. Sacramento: sunny, 88. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from William Blaylock:
“I grew up on a grape farm in Selma [Calif.] during the 1950s. When I was about 10, my dad took me to see the L.A. Rams play the Green Bay Packers at the Memorial Coliseum. We took the overnight, local Greyhound bus, stopping at every valley town along Highway 99. We stayed at the Lankershim Hotel in downtown L.A., walking along Broadway in the early morning hours. We sat in the end zone and I think I was the only Packer fan. I must have slept most of the way home. Sixty years later, I still remember this trip with my dad.”
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)