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Gilroy shooter did not appear to target people based on race, authorities say

Gilroy shooting
A police officer stands guard outside Gilroy High School, near the site of the food festival where a gunman opened fire Sunday.
(Nhat V. Meyer / San Jose Mercury News)

The man who opened fire Sunday at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, killing three people, did not appear to target people of a particular race, a law enforcement official said Thursday, pushing back on speculation — fueled by racist comments posted on the gunman’s Instagram account — that he was motivated by white supremacist beliefs.

“We’ve not yet determined the ideology, if ever,” said John F. Bennett, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco office. Asked at a news conference Thursday about a slur, directed at people of mixed race, that the gunman posted shortly before the attack, Bennet said it “doesn’t seem clear he was targeting any particular group. It seems very random at this point.”

For the record:
7:29 PM, Aug. 01, 2019 An earlier version of this article said the news conference took place Wednesday. It was on Thursday.

Santino William Legan, 19, cut through a fence encircling the popular food festival Sunday evening and opened fire with an AK-47-style rifle. Three Gilroy police officers engaged Legan and killed him within a minute, but not before he shot to death three people: Stephen Romero, 6; Keyla Salazar, 13; and Trevor Irby, 25.

Thirteen people were wounded. Authorities previously tallied a dozen injuries, but Scot Smithee, Gilroy’s police chief, said Thursday that a 13th person had suffered a graze wound.

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Bennett, of the FBI, said agents are scouring electronics and written materials retrieved from Legan’s residences, reviewing whether he had an online presence on “many different platforms,” and interviewing his associates, co-workers and family.

But motive, Bennett cautioned, “can be a very tricky thing.”

Along with the slur for people of mixed race, Legan made reference on Instagram to a 19th century screed favored by white supremacists. His profile said he was of Italian and Iranian descent.

Smithee on Thursday identified the officers who killed Legan and cut his rampage short: Eric Cryar, Hugo Del Moral and Robert Basuino.

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“I think they’re heroes. I don’t think they view themselves that way,” Smithee said. “I think they view themselves as just doing their job.”

Smithee declined to say how many times Legan was shot.


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