Santino William Legan: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Police say Santino William Legan, 19, shot and killed three people and wounded several others in a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, according to CBS News. The shooting Sunday night on the final day of the annual charity event at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy left three dead, 12 injured and the suspected shooter, Legan, who shot and killed himself. Several others were injured in the chaos after shots were fired, but were not shot, authorities said.

The dead include 6-year-old Stephen Romero. Romero’s grandmother and mother were also shot, but are expected to survive. A GoFundMe was established to help the family pay for the child’s funeral. The two others killed are Keyla Salazar, 13, and Trevor Irby, a recent college graduate.

Police said Legan was armed with an AK 47-type assault rifle that was “purchased legally” in Nevada on July 9. Legan had rented an apartment in the Nevada desert, hundreds of miles away from his hometown of Gilroy.

Gilroy Police Chief Scott Smithee said Sunday night that Legan “used a tool to cut through a fence to gain access” to the festival grounds.

Police had been hunting a second suspect since the shooting, but as of Monday morning, police not only have not announced a capture, Smithee said “we really don’t know” if there is a second suspect. And by Tuesday, authorities were certain that Santino acted alone.

A motive for the shooting has not yet been made public, but a search warrant executed at an apartment he’d rented in in Walker City, Nevada found a a gun light, knife, bulletproof vest, gas mask, empty ammo boxes, gun pamphlets, an empty Valium bottle, electronic devices and media on white supremacy, according to the Mineral County District Attorney’s Office. State and federal officials and agents believe he may have had plans for a larger attack.

The search warrant also turned up what’s reported to be a “mysterious letter from Virginia.” That could be Virginia Holden, Legan’s grandmother. The adopted daughter of actor William Holden, Virginia married Legan’s maternal grandfather, an Iranian-born economics professor. Legan’s mother is the daughter of Virginia Holden, which makes Legan the great-grandson of actor William Holden. Read more about his family below.

Legan opened fire at about 5:40 p.m. local time at the garlic festival, which was to end at 6 p.m. In a creek near the park, police found a bag of ammunition and in his car, a shotgun.

On the day of the attack, one witness who told reporters they’d come face to face with the gunman and asked why he was doing this was told, “Because I’m really angry.”

According to a CNN report, a neighbor of the Legan’s recognized the young man saying that while she did not know the family personally, she remarked that Legan and his siblings are “…very nice kids. When I found out this morning, I was shocked. This is a quiet place.”

Here’s what you need to know about Santino Legan and the shooting:



1. Legan, Who Identifies as Being of Italian & Iranian Descent, Posted on Instagram Before the Shooting. The Account Was Removed, but Heavy Obtained Screenshots

If Santino William Legan has an online social media presence, it’s well camouflaged. So it’s more inexplicable that he should choose to create an Instagram page just a few days before the mass shooting police said he perpetrated. The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a time-honored fair that celebrates the centuries-old bulbous cousin of the onion used in food preparation and as a medicine.

Why anywhere, but why in particular did he choose to open fire at the garlic festival?

In his page with just three posts, including one post made days before the shooting and two posted on Sunday, the one most disturbing appears to have been posted shortly before the shooting, minutes perhaps. Based on the time stamp, and when Heavy accessed the image, it may have been posted at around 5 p.m. Sunday. The vantage point appears to have been from a short distance looking in to Christmas Hill Park.

Legan wrote: “Ayyy garlic festival time. Come get wasted on overpriced shit.”

Legan also posted about a fringe white supremacist book written in 1890.

In this post, which came directly after the previous one, Legan suggest viewers read the far right and very fringe book Might Is Right purported to be written by the pseudonym-named Ragnar Redbeard. The work, reported to have been written in 1890, is a known white supremacist manifesto that individualist anarchist, revisionist historian and Holocaust denier James J. Martin called, “…one of the most incendiary works ever to be published anywhere.”

Incendiary an apropos adjective as Legan published it with the well-known cartoon bear the mascot for how to prevent forest fires.

“Read ‘Might Is Right’ by Ragnar Redbeard,” Legan wrote. His caption further asked rhetorically, “Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats?”

Mestizos is a term used to describe someone of mixed descent, but specifically white and Hispanic and/or white and Native Indian. He appeared to have used it in a derogatory manner.

According to ‘Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Subculture,’ the book ‘Might Is Right’ is said to expand on German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s “theories of master–slave morality and herd mentality …”

‘Might Is Right’ is described as espousing social Darwinism and includes misogynistic and racist principles “claiming that the woman and the family as a whole is the property of the man and proclaiming the innate superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race. The book also contains many strong anti-Semitic statements.”

Some have said he cannot be a white supremacist since he has an Iranian ancestor.

ABC News reported that the FBI agent in charge said he was to “knock down” the theory Legan was a white nationalist.

“I can tell you there has been no determination on ideology. There’s reports out there has been information found and books referenced on that, we are not in a position at this stage of the investigation to make a call on ideology,” Special Agent John Bennett said Wednesday.

“The information that’s out there, it’s being reported that there’s white nationalism or any type of those ideologies …That has not been determined and I wanted to knock that down.”

santino legan instagram

InstagramSantino Legan’s Instagram post.

Legan also shared a third photo of his maternal grandfather, Ali Ashgar Vahabzadeh, with a note about him anglicizing his name to Ali Baylor from his original Iranian name. An obituary from the Ventura County Star says Baylor also went by the name Allen O. Baylor and was born in Iran before teaching as an economics professor at the University of Texas, California Lutheran University and UCLA.

His daughter Ardis Baylor is Legan’s mother.

Interestingly, Legan is a descendant of a 1940s-era Hollywood legend, actor William Holden.

santino william legan william holden

GettyAmerican actor William Holden and his wife, actor Brenda Marshall in the 1950s. Holden is the great-grandfather of Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter Santino William Legan.

Ali Baylor, his grandfather, married Virginia Gaines Holden. She is the daughter of Hollywood actress Brenda Marshal, whose birth name was Ardis Ankerson. Marshal had a daughter, Virginia with actor Richard Gaines, who starred in the classic film Double Indemnity. Marshal later married actor William Holden who adopted her daughter Virginia. Virginia Holden married Baylor and the couple had a daughter, Ardis Baylor; Santino William Legan’s mother. Virginia Holden is still alive and lives in New York City.


2. Legan’s Family Members Are Well Known in His Native Gilroy — His Grandfather Was a Santa Clara County Supervisor, His Father Was a Champion Runner & Legan’s Brother Is a Noted Boxer

Legan’s brother is a noted local amateur boxer who was profiled in a 2017 story about his mission to help see tuition costs lowered, and also for his talent in the ring.

On his LinkedIn page he says, “I am a San Jose PAL boxer with more than 65 fights. I also earned a Communication degree at Santa Clara University, Class of 2018.”

Legan also has two other brothers.

Thomas Legan

Legan’s paternal grandfather was Tom Legan, a West Point graduate who died in May 2018. According to his obituary, the elder Legan served as a “captain in Korea as a Nuclear Weapons Officer and completed his military service in Germany. As a civilian, Tom was Western Regional Marketing Director for Kaiser Cement and was thereafter appointed and then elected as Santa Clara County Supervisor for two terms.”

In 1988, he was acquitted by a jury of the alleged rape of his eldest daughter. The Los Angeles Times reported that he was “found innocent Friday of three counts of molesting his elder daughter in 1982.” Legan was seeking re-election at the time.

Santino Legan’s father Tom Legan was a championship track and field runner. A longtime friend and coach wrote about him just last week. This morning, he posted a crying emoji to one of the pictures.

Several officers, including FBI agents, ATF agents, Gilroy Police and officers from other local and state agencies, were at a home in Gilroy on Monday believed to belong to Santino Legan’s father.

Santino Legan is a Gilroy native and attended Gilroy High School.

Legan’s family has not commented about the shooting.


3. Legan, Armed With a Rifle he Purchased Legally in Nevada, Cut Through a Fence to Avoid Security Measures at the Garlic Festival, Police Say

Witnesses told NBC Bay Area that they heard dozens of shots being fired. One of the suspects was reported to be wearing camouflage and armed with a long rifle. It’s presumed that was Legan.

“He pulled out a semi-automatic rifle and started shooting at everyone,” one witness told the news station.

Gilroy Police Chief Smithee said that Legan bought the assault weapon “legally in Nevada on July 9.”

Another witness told KTVU-TV, “A lot of people started running toward us, yelling and screaming, that there was a guy shooting. So we all panicked, dropped everything we had and ran with them, got into their trucks, jumped in with whoever we could jump in with. We got out of there. There were quite a few shots. It sounded like he reloaded. Because it stopped and then started again. … He was all in fatigues and had a machine gun and he was just shooting at everyone, randomly shooting.”

Witness Ryan Wallace told NBC News, “I watched him walk up, he raised his gun and started spraying rounds all around. He was walking like he wanted to get stuff done. It was horrifying. He was ready to do some damage.”

And Julissa Contreras said he was rapidly firing. She told NBC News, “I could see him shooting in just every direction. He wasn’t aiming at anyone specifically … He definitely was prepared for what he was doing.”

“i just survived a mass shooting at the gilroy garlic festival. my friends and i got out fast and safe. a bullet hit the truck that my friend and i were standing next to at the time they opened fire. we are so lucky. please fucking support gun control.”

According to Gilroy Police, the suspect, identified as Legan, used an unknown tool to cut through a fence on the outside of the park to avoid metal detectors and other security measures at the Garlic Festival.


4. Police Said They Shot & Killed Legan. But the Medical Examiner Said he Killed Himself. After the First Shots Rang Out, Sending Panicked Festivalgoers Racing Toward Exits & Into Hiding

Legan was shot dead by police just minutes after the first shots rang out, Gilroy Chief Smithee said initially. Later, the coroner would rule his death a suicide.

“We were eating and we heard a pop, pop noise and then we heard it again, pop, pop, pop,” Miquita Price told the Sacramento Bee. “And then my husband said, ‘It’s shooting,’ and he pushed me down. The pop sounds were clear, and when he stopped shooting I got up and ran for cover over to an Enterprise truck. Me, my husband and a lady and her daughter all ran for cover and as we were running the gunman started back up.”

She added, “The lady, her neck was hit. We see that she’s bleeding and she’s freaking out. I’m freaking out. We are all hiding under this truck and I told my husband, ’We’re safe.’ And he said, ‘No, we’re not safe. The sheriff can’t save us.”

Price told the newspaper, “My husband saw the fire being spit out of the gun. It was a white male and he was in army fatigues. He came out of the food court, and that’s when he opened fire. People were screaming and running. It was chaos everywhere.”

Several videos show panicked festivalgoers running away from the sound of gunfire and trying to get to safety. In one video, which you can watch above, multiple shots are heard.

This video purports to show when the shooting began.

In the video, people are running with someone asking “What’s going on?” Then, a gunshot can be heard and the person recording takes off running, too.

“This is crazy. This is actually crazy. How do you shoot at the garlic festival? Like who you got beef with at the garlic festival?”

Twitter user Niah wrote that there was no “emergency evacuation plan. We’ve been stranded in 100 degree heat for about 30 minutes.”

A man and his family hid behind a van until it was safe to come out.

You can watch more videos here:


5. At First, Gilroy Police Chief Smithee Said as Soon as Legan Saw His Officers, he Fired at Them & They Fired Back, With Handguns Versus an Assault Rifle Killing Him & Saving Countless Lives

Police flocked to the scene and were searching several areas around Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy in the hours after the shooting. Reporter Elissa Harrington tweeted, “Police in full tactical gear searching creek with K9’s – helicopters overhead. Unclear how many shooters there were and if police have anybody in custody.”

The shooting remains under investigation by the Gilroy Police Department, along with other local, state and federal authorities. The San Francisco office of the ATF tweeted that agents were headed to the scene to assist police. After midnight, the FBI arrived.

Cheif Smithee said Monday that the shooting occurred near the end of the three-day festival which draws up to 100,000. When the shooter opened fire, there were still several thousand people at the park, Smithee said, adding that the event relies on the volunteer efforts of thousands. He said that police had everything in place with tight security. He said Legan cut though a fence to gain access to the site. When he began firing, police officers armed with handguns “engaged” with Legan who fired at them.

“Despite being outgunned,” he said, officers were able to stop him by shooting him dead. It’s reported he was shot in the head.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am,” he said. “We had thousands of people there in a small area (and) it could have been much worse.”

Gilroy Police said on Twitter, “The hearts of Gilroy PD and entire community go out to the victims of today’s shooting at the Garlic Festival. The scene is still active. If you are looking for a loved one, please go to the reunification center at Gavilan College at parking lot B. #GilroyActiveshooter … Witness line and family reunification line: 408-846-0583. If you saw something today please call that number immediately. Please keep the main GPD line for emergencies only.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted, “This is nothing short of horrific. Tonight, CA stands with the Gilroy community. My office is monitoring the situation closely. Grateful for the law enforcement’s efforts and their continued work as this situation develops.”

The Gilroy Garlic Festival has been held at the park since 1979 and has become an institution in the area. The three-day festival raises money for several charities and non-profit groups in the Gilroy community, according to its website.

Brian Bowe, executive director of the festival said the shooting is a “sad, horribly upsetting” incident.

The Gilroy Garlic Fest is one of the largest food festivals in the country.

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