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Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter killed himself with self-inflicted gun wound, coroner says

 

The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter killed himself with a bullet to his head, the Santa Clara County Coroner’s office said in a brief statement Friday.

The partial autopsy result contradicts previous police officials’ statements this week that their officers shot and “fatally wounded” the 19-year-old Santino William Legan Sunday evening after he opened fire on the festival crowd with an assault rifle he had purchased legally in Nevada.

Legan killed three people and wounded 13 before he died. The victims were ages 6, 13 and 25.

Law enforcement authorities have said they do not have a motive.

Police officials at a press conference after the shooting said their officers engaged Legan within a minute of the initial shots, and fatally wounded him in a shootout.

“The suspect was armed with an assault-type rifle and as soon as he saw the officers he engaged the officers and fired at the officers with that rifle,” Police Chief Scot Smithee said earlier this week. “I had three officers that engaged that suspect, and despite the fact that they were outgunned with their handguns against a rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound that suspect and end it very quickly.”

The county coroner, however, issued a brief statement Friday saying the suspect’s cause of death was “suicide,” and that the shot that killed him was an “intraoral gunshot wound of head.”

At a follow-up press conference Friday, Smithee elaborated, saying the police officers shot Legan numerous times, bringing him to the ground, where, at some point, he shot himself.

“Whether he fired the final shot or not, in my mind, it changes nothing,” the chief said.

A police spokesman said the department does not yet know how many times officers’ bullets struck the suspect. The department will await an FBI analysis and further reports from the county coroner, which are not expected for several months.

The three victims who died have been identified as 6-year-old Stephen Romero and 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, of San Jose, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby, who had recently moved to Santa Cruz from upstate New York.

The motive behind Sunday’s mass shooting at the Garlic Festival may never be known, authorities said at a news conference Thursday, as their investigation dragged into a sixth day.

Law enforcement agencies are examining Legan’s digital footprint, including his social media presence, electronic devices, and computer hardware seized in searches Monday at the shooter’s family home in Gilroy, and a remote Nevada apartment where he had been living since May. Federal investigators and FBI profilers from around the country have been brought into assist in the investigation, special agent-in-charge John Bennett said — but they have still yet to figure out a motive.

“We have not yet determined the ideology” of the shooter, Bennett said.

So far, authorities have been circumspect about whether Legan may have been fueled by extremist views, a question born out messages the 19-year-old posted to his Instagram page shortly before the shooting, including one that encouraged people to read a 1890 white supremacy manifesto popular among right-wing extremists, and another referencing the Garlic Festival.

Smithee also said Thursday that police had identified an additional shooting victim — who had sought their own treatment for a graze wound — bringing the total of people killed or wounded in the shooting to 16.

Smithee also released the names of the three officers who rushed to the gunfire Sunday, fatally shooting Legan within minutes of his first shots. They are Eric Cryar, Hugo Del Moral and Robert Basuino, who have 23, 17 and 13 years of police experience respectively.

“I think they’re heroes,” Smithee said. “I don’t think they’re particularly excited about being in the limelight, but I certainly think that they deserve recognition for what they did.”

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