Gilroy police responded in ‘less than a minute’ to festival shooting

Police were on the scene of a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in less than a minute, the Gilroy chief of police said.

According to Chief of Police Scot Smithee, officers responded “immediately” to reports of a shooting Sunday. The gunman, who officials identified as Santino William LeGan, 19, opened fire at the north side of the festival at 5:41 p.m. In “less than a minute,” Smithee said, police were there.

Officers were already in Christmas Hill Park to provide support for the festival, which sees nearly 100,000 visitors over its three-day span. Police maintain a command center for the event, and officers are deployed throughout the park.

“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,” Smithee said at a press conference Monday morning. “I had three officers engage the suspect. Despite the fact they were outgunned, with their handguns against a rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound that suspect.”

Three people were killed and 15 were injured. Authorities are not yet identifying the victims, though they confirmed a 6-year-old boy, 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s were among the deceased.

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In addition, the Gilroy Fire Department already had EMTs nearby, as is routine for large events, so first responders were able to arrive quickly on scene.

“We had thousands of people there in a very small area and it could have gotten so much worse so fast,” Smithee said. “I’m really proud they got there as quickly as they did.”

Katie Dowd is an SFGATE Senior Digital Manager. Contact:

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