The 19-year-old shooter who opened fire at a Northern California food festival was “a sort of loner,” and much of his life was shrouded in mystery, the FBI said Tuesday as researchers searched for a motive.
The police believe that Santino shot William Legan randomly on Sunday and killed three people after being cut through a fence to enter the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Officers patrolling the popular event responded within a minute and killed him.
Legan went to high school in Gilroy in his final year and recently lived in Nevada, where he bought two guns – the AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle he used in the attack and a shotgun in his car nearby The festival was found, authorities said.
A bag of ammunition was found in a creek near the fence, police said.
“We understand he’s a loner,” says Craig Fair, deputy special agent in charge of the San Francisco Division of the FBI. “People who act alone are extremely dangerous because they are not allowed to communicate their plans, intentions, mindsets – they cannot communicate that to other people.”
Legan lived in an apartment in Walker Lake, a remote community in northern Nevada, and, according to officials, had not had any run-ins.
“He seems to have moved into Mineral County this spring and to maintain a low profile,” Sheriff Randy Adams said in a statement.
Officials searched the apartment and grabbed empty shotguns and rifle boxes, a gas mask, empty ammunition boxes, electronic devices, pamphlets on guns and a bag full of ammunition cases, the prosecutors said.
The FBI said they were looking through Legan’s social media, emails, and phone to find out who he spoke to and what he expressed and thought. Authorities don’t believe he focused on someone based on specific characteristics such as race, but they are still trying to determine his ideology, Fair said.
On the day of the attack, Legan urged his followers on Instagram to read a 19th-century book that is popular with white supremacists on extremist websites. He also complained about the crowded cities and the open space to make way for “hordes” of Latinos and Silicon Valley whites.
Legan posted a photo of the festival minutes before he opened fire and said, “Come and waste too expensive” items. His Instagram account, which has since been deleted, says that he is Italian and Iranian.
Although some killers have started writing or even broadcasting their attacks in recent mass shootings, there have been cases where shooters leave very little public footprint and no motive is uncovered.
This also applies to the shooter who has performed the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. No clear motive was found why Stephen Paddock killed 58 people at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas in 2017, although the FBI said he was looking for fame.
Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee told reporters that the authorities believe that Legan only acted but is still investigating. Researchers followed Legan’s movements through the city before the shooting, and video shows him that he only visits stores, Smithee said.
People had to pass metal detectors and have their bags searched at the long-running festival that attracts more than 100,000 people with music, food booths and cooking classes to the city, about 80 miles (176 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco.
Police, paramedics and firefighters were stationed throughout the event, along with FBI agents who, in a common practice, had been asked to monitor the event, the authorities said.
Legan circumvented those safety measures by cutting through the fence.
He killed 6-year-old Stephen Romero and 13-year-old Keyla Salazar from San Jose, along with Trevor Irby, 25, from Romulus, New York, who was at the event with his girlfriend. She was not injured.
A dozen other people were injured. At least seven victims stayed in the hospital on Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.