At Least 3 Killed And 12 Injured After Shooting At Gilroy Garlic Festival

Jul 29, 2019
Originally published on July 30, 2019 3:00 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We have an update now from Gilroy, Calif., where three people were killed and at least 12 others were injured in a mass shooting yesterday. The shooter is also dead - killed by police. It took place at the annual Garlic Festival there; an event that draws some 100,000 people each year. Today at a press conference, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee choked up when he spoke about how young the victims were.

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SCOT SMITHEE: Any time a life is lost, it's a tragedy. But when it's young people, it's even worse. And, you know, it's just - it's very difficult.

CORNISH: NPR's Leila Fadel joins us now from Gilroy. And, Leila, what more have you learned about the victims?

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, we know one of the three people killed was a man in his 20s, another a 13-year-old girl named Keyla Salazar. And the third was a little boy just 6 years old named Stephen Romero. There were at least 12 other people injured. And the police chief says this would have been even more deadly if police hadn't acted so quickly and engaged the gunman within a minute of the gunshots being fired. Authorities right now are opening a victim's assistance center for those who were impacted by the shooting today and need help.

CORNISH: What are authorities saying about the shooter? Do they know anything about how he carried out his crime?

FADEL: Well, at this point, they have, as we know, identified the gunman as 19-year-old Santino William Legan. And just now in a news conference, the police chief says they are executing search warrants on both the vehicle of the shooter who is now deceased and a residence associated with the gunman. The gunman also purchased an SKS, which the police chief described as an assault-style rifle from neighboring Nevada on July 9, where gun laws are much more lax than they are in California. And then he carried out the killing spree here in Gilroy, his hometown, on the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which is described by everyone here as a really happy time. It's about music and food and volunteering, and proceeds go to charity. Of course, this year, the last hour of that festival was marred by this mass shooting. He's from a well-known family and grew up in Gilroy. His brother's a local amateur boxer. His late grandfather was a former Santa Clara County supervisor.

CORNISH: Now, there have been reports that a second shooter may have been involved. What are police saying about this and about a possible motive?

FADEL: Well, at this point, we don't know if he did this by himself. The police chief said that witnesses had conflicting accounts of a second person, but they haven't found this person. They're still looking into whether this person even exists. And as we saw in Las Vegas, a lot of witnesses thought there was a second shooter there. And later, it turned out, there was just one shooter, so we really don't know at this point. The police chief and the FBI both said the investigation's ongoing, that it will take a long time. They're looking for tips from the public - videos, anything that people might know about the shooter. And why he did this, at this point, is also unknown, whether it was random or if he is associated with a specific ideology.

CORNISH: I understand you spent time in the neighborhood where the shooter grew up in his family home. What did you learn there?

FADEL: Well, his neighborhood's just a mile away from the park where the festival was happening. And, you know, neighbors were really in shock. They described a really nice family, a quiet, young man who always said hello when he was out running with his brothers or working out in the garage. One of those neighbors is Elia Scettrini.

ELIA SCETTRINI: Very quiet boy; you know, not a troublemaker. That's what is striking and really devastating, you know? It's like, how did this happen? - a father that's devoted to his son, spent a lot of time with him doing things with him. The mom, too - very nice. And this happens.

FADEL: And so they were grappling with a mass shooting in their town, the shooter growing up on their street. And also, they were sad for the victims but also the family whose parents are now grappling with the loss of a son who committed such a horrific event.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Leila Fadel reporting from Gilroy, Calif. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.