Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter killed himself, coroner says, contradicting police version of events

Police officers escort people from Christmas Hill Park on Sunday night after the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The county medical examiner concluded Friday that the gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)

The Gilroy Garlic Festival gunman killed himself, the county medical examiner concluded Friday, contradicting an earlier police account that three officers had shot him dead within a minute.

Santino William Legan, 19, opened fire at the popular food festival Sunday evening, killing three people and wounding 13 more. Police had previously said his rampage was cut short when three Gilroy policemen — outgunned by a rifle-wielding Legan — engaged him with handguns and killed him in less than a minute.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner, however, determined that Legan died of a self-inflicted, “intra-oral” gunshot wound, according to a spokeswoman for the medical examiner.


At a news conference following the medical examiner’s announcement, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said Legan was shot several times by officers before killing himself. Three officers ran toward Legan and opened fire with their handguns, Smithee said, forcing the gunman to shift his line of fire from crowds of festivalgoers to police. No officers were hit, Smithee said.

Legan was shot “multiple times,” Smithee said, falling to his knees and then to the ground — where “he was able to get a round off,” the chief said. The officers did not realize Legan had shot himself in the mouth with his rifle, Smithee said. He cautioned that the medical examiner’s finding is preliminary and doesn’t describe the extent of the injuries Legan suffered from police gunfire.

Smithee said he didn’t know how many rounds his officers fired at Legan, or where or how many times Legan was hit. No bystanders were hit by the rounds fired by police, the chief said.

Smithee said the medical examiner’s finding did nothing in his mind to diminish the bravery of the officers who engaged Legan, identified Thursday as Eric Cryar, Hugo Del Moral and Robert Basuino, all longtime law enforcement veterans.

“I don’t think it contradicts anything,” he said of the medical examiner’s determination. Smithee has called the officers heroes who averted what could have become an even bloodier scene at the Garlic Festival, Gilroy’s marquee event and a draw for families.

Legan killed three people, two of them children: Stephen Romero, 6; Keyla Salazar, 13; and Trevor Irby, 25.

Law enforcement authorities have not identified a motive. The FBI has seized from Legan’s residence what a law enforcement source described as extremist materials, but John F. Bennett, special agent in charge of the bureau’s San Francisco office, pushed back Thursday on reports that Legan was motivated by extremist or white supremacist beliefs. Written materials taken from Legan’s residence in Nevada ran the ideological gamut, Bennett said.

FBI profilers are interviewing Legan’s relatives and associates, reviewing his presence on online platforms and combing through materials seized from a Nevada residence, which include several harddrives, a computer tower, books and a letter from a relative, according to a receipt of a search warrant released by Nevada authorities.


Bennett said Thursday that there is no indication Legan targeted festival attendees of a particular race. Shortly before the attack, he promoted on Instagram a 19th century screed often championed by white supremacists, and used a slur to refer to mixed-race people. Legan, whose family lives in Gilroy, identified himself on Instagram as of Italian and Iranian heritage.