Police chief names ‘hero’ officers in Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting

Number of injured rises by one

Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian Police from numerous agencies continue their search Monday for a possible second suspect and for evidence in a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Sunday.

Eric Cryar, Hugo Del Moral and Robert Basuino are the Gilroy police officers hailed as heroes for shooting and killing the gunman who murdered three people and injured more than a dozen others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival July 28.

Police Chief Scot Smithee named the law enforcement veterans at an Aug. 1 press conference, asking the media and the public to respect their privacy.

“I view them as heroes,” Smithee said, noting the officers likely prevented many more people from being killed or injured.

The officers began running to the area on the north side of Christmas Hill Park within seconds after the 19-year-old shooter opened fire on families and volunteers with a semi-automatic rifle. They began to shoot their handguns at the suspect, who returned fire at the officers, Smithee said. Even though the officers were “outgunned” by the suspect’s higher-caliber weapon, they engaged the gunman and ultimately shot and killed him within a minute after the first shots rang out at the crowded festival.

Cryar is a 23-year police veteran and Del Moral is a 17-year veteran of law enforcement. Basuino has been a police officer for 13 years, all with the Gilroy department, Smithee said.

Two children—Stephen Romero and Keyla Allison Salazar—and 25-year-old Trevor Irby died when a gunman opened fire at the Garlic Festival, Gilroy’s signature celebration for more than four decades. Thirteen people were injured by gunfire, authorities said.

The gunman, Santino William Legan, of Gilroy, planned the shooting ahead of time and likely acted alone, according to police. Investigators are still trying to determine his motive for the shooting.

Del Moral had fired his handgun on duty at least once before, during a Gilroy Police incident in 2005, according to Gilroy Dispatch archives. The single round he fired in that incident missed the targeted suspect, who was taken into custody without any significant harm officers or bystanders.

The 2005 shooting occurred after a standoff in which a potentially violent and intoxicated man, Louie Miranda, had barricaded himself in a Pierce Street apartment. Miranda had told relatives he was “standing in a pool of blood,” according to a story on the Gilroy Dispatch website dated Aug. 23, 2005. The incident occurred Aug. 16. 

Gilroy Police Officer Hugo Del Moral, pictured in a 2019 Dispatch file photo

After Miranda repeatedly refused to exit the home, numerous officers had surrounded the residence and evacuated nearby units before Del Moral led three other officers in entering the apartment, according to the Dispatch account. Del Moral, holding a ballistics shield in his left hand and his handgun in his right, saw Miranda crouched “in a fighting stance with a knife in his hand at waist level, almost directly inside the door,” police said at the time.

Del Moral saw this as an immediate threat, and he fired a round at Miranda. The round missed, but an officer behind Del Moral struck Miranda four times with a pepper ball gun, according to the Dispatch.

Miranda then hid under a staircase until officers ultimately convinced him to surrender, according to police, who later found an 8-inch kitchen knife where he was hiding. The walls and floor of the apartment were covered in blood.

Smithee also reported at the Aug. 1 press conference that the total number of victims of the Garlic Festival shooting has climbed to 16. He said a victim who suffered a “slight graze” from a gunshot had sought treatment on their own, and thus police did not immediately know about the injury. 

Although authorities shrunk the crime scene at Christmas Hill Park by about half on Aug. 1, Gilroy Police and FBI investigators said they likely will remain at the site “for several more days.” FBI Special Agent John Bennett said the Garlic Festival Association would soon begin contacting vendors who have been unable to even begin packing up their belongings since the July 28 shooting.

At the Aug. 1 press conference, Bennett added that the FBI has “multiple evidence response teams from across the country” working on the Garlic Festival investigation. This includes technical specialists from local FBI offices as well as the agency’s headquarters in Virginia, who are analyzing digital photos, videos and other media captured of the incident.

Bennett said the FBI has received more thatran 100 photos and videos that witnesses have uploaded to a website set up for such tips. Anyone with photos or videos of the July 28 shooting incident, or the events leading up to and after the violence, can submit them at fbi.gov/gilroy.

Some aspects of the investigation are “slow and methodical,” including determining the bullet trajectory of every round fired by the suspect and police officers, Bennett said. “We have to account for every bullet that came from every weapon, and some of those bullets could travel great distances,” Bennett said.

A key aspect of the FBI investigation is the presence of “behavioral analysis” specialists, or profilers, Bennett said. The profilers are attempting to determine Legan’s ideology and motive, which remains undetermined.

“We still do not have a firm grasp on ideology,” Bennett said.

Legan graduated from Gilroy High School in 2017, school authorities confirmed Aug 1.  He grew up with his parents and siblings in a neighborhood just east of the high school. He also attended Monte Vista Christian School for three years, before attending Gilroy High School, according to the school.

After police identified Legan as the July 28 shooter, they executed search warrants of his family home in Gilroy, a residence he was associated with in Walker Lake, Nevada and his car—which was parked on Laurel Drive just outside Christmas Hill Park. Police said they found a shotgun in the car, but have not disclosed any other contents of the searches.

Some news reports have claimed that investigators found a gas mask and other tactical gear at the home in Nevada.

Police have said that Legan purchased the weapon he used at the Garlic Festival—an AK-47 variant rifle—and the shotgun, legally, in Nevada on July 9. Authorities have also disclosed that they found a backpack full of ammunition near the festival grounds, which they believe belonged to Legan.

Gilroy Police, Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI are continuing to work together to return festival attendees’ belongings, Bennett added. Many of those present at the Garlic Festival at the time of the shooting ran as soon as they heard gunshots, leaving items and their vehicles within the area that is still a closed crime scene.

The DA’s office has set up a temporary Family Assistance Center at Rucker Elementary school, 325 Santa Clara Ave. Personal belongings will be collected there for return to their owners. The Family Assistance Center also offers grief counseling, emotional support and referrals to other services.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I appreciate the Gilroy Police for the excellent service defending the Gilroy community at the Garlic Festival.
    Now that’s what makes Gilroy proud! Thank You! We left about 40 minutes before shooting took place. Together we shall overcome…

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