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February 26, 2021

Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting suspect fatally shot himself, coroner rules

The gunman in the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival took his own life during a shootout with police, the Santa Clara County coroner revealed late Friday afternoon, Aug. 2.

Dr. Michelle A. Jorden, responding to requests from the Gilroy Dispatch and other local media, ruled the death of Santino William Legan, 19, a suicide, from an “intraoral gunshot wound of head.” Gilroy police said the suspect was exchanging gunfire with three officers with his AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle at the time of his death.

The medical examiner-coroner gave no further details at this time.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said he also learned of the coroner’s preliminary report Friday afternoon. At a hastily called press conference at Gilroy police headquarters, he gave more details of the fateful Garlic Festival shootout the evening of July 28

The chief said the officers on duty at Gilroy’s Christmas Hill Park fired at Legan, hitting him “multiple times.” During the shootout, the gunman fell to his knees and then to the ground.

It was sometime during that sequence when the gunman fired a single round into his mouth, according to Smithee.

The chief added that it appeared the officers at the chaotic scene were unaware that Legan had shot himself.

The new revelation from the coroner doesn’t diminish the “heroism” of the officers, or contradict the initial police report, Smithee said.

“In my mind, it changes nothing,” he said. “The officers got there fast and eliminated the threat.”

A full report will be made public in the future, outlining further details of the shooting, said Smithee.

The police engaged Legan at the north side of the Garlic Festival about 20 minutes before the close of the three-day event, and less than a minute after Legan had sprayed a crowded food court with dozens of shots, fatally wounding a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man.

The youngest victim was Stephen Romero of San Jose, the female teen victim was Keyla Salazar, also from San Jose, and the third fatality was Trevor Irby, 25, of Romulus, New York.

Police said 13 other people suffered gunshot injuries in the shooting at the festival, a signature event in this city of 60,000 for more than four decades.

Legan was a 2017 Gilroy High School graduate who had lived briefly in Nevada, where police said he purchased the murder weapon and ammunition earlier this month.

Four of the victims remained hospitalized at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Aug. 2.

Police and FBI continued their investigation of the crime scene and of materials obtained from search warrants in Gilroy and Nevada.

Erik Chalhoub and Barry Holtzclaw contributed to this report.

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