The Santa Clara County coroner told the Associated Press that Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter Santino William Legan, 19, killed himself, “contradicting police account that officers fired the fatal shot.”
The AP reported that senior office specialist in the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office Nicole Lopez said “Legan’s cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
At a press conference Friday evening, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee says that news doesn’t change anything.” He calls his officers heroes. Legan was shot by police, but the coroner said the fatal shot was self-inflicted. Smithee said that Legan was shot by officers, went down and somehow managed to shoot himself in his head, likely through his mouth, Smithee said in response to a reporter’s question.
Police said Legan 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, and 16 injured. Police have said repeatedly that police killed Legan.
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.
Chief Smithee said Sunday night that Legan “used a tool to cut through a fence to gain access” to the festival grounds. And he said his officers were fired at by Legan and they returned firing killing him. 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 was reported he was shot in the head by police. Now, it’s known that Legan shot himself in the head with the assault rifle, Smithee said.
Those three officers, all detectives, are on leave during the investigation. Smithee called the three “heroes.”
“All three of these officers are incredibly humble …I think they’re heroes. I don’t think they view themselves that way. I think they view themselves as doing their jobs.”
With a combined half century-plus of law enforcement service, the officers are Eric Cryar, Robert Basuino, and Hugo Del Moral.
At a media briefing Thursday, Smithee said the officers were likely not “excited about being in the limelight,” but nonetheless need to be recognized.
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.
This story will be updated.