While a motive has still not been discussed in Sunday's mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival — and as with the far deadlier 2017 shooting in Las Vegas we may never find one — we know that the 19-year-old implicated spent the last months of his life in solitude in a sad-looking triplex near I-95 in Nevada.
Like the Las Vegas shooter two years earlier, Santino William Legan waited until the end of a well-attended festival weekend to exact his revenge on a world he was apparently angry with. And like 64-year-old Steven Paddock — who murdered far more people at the Route 91 Harvest music festival — he acquired his weaponry in Nevada. Also, both appeared to be men with solitary pursuits, though Paddock did have a wife who was out of the country when he committed his atrocities.
As the Chronicle reports, Legan had lived since sometime in May in a rented apartment beside Walker Lake, a dusty hamlet by a small natural lake in western Nevada, 70 miles southeast of Carson City — 110 miles from Reno, where Legan's brother was apparently living — near the California border. He lived on a road named for a condemned resort, long since boarded up, called the Cliff House Resort. A neighbor who lived next door to the triplex says Legan waved to him a couple times, but even he doesn't sound like he knows why anyone would want to live there, let alone a 19-year-old. "Locals say it’s the kind of town where people come to be left alone," the Chronicle writes, and the neighbor, Marty Neff, says of the triplex, "[People] stay there until they can find someplace better to live."
We only know that a few weeks ago in July, Legan traveled to a gun store in Fallon to purchase the semi-automatic rifle that was illegal to bring into California. And he wanted the world to see his rage, and apparently for children to pay for it along with adults.
As we learned Monday, Legan grew up in Gilroy and came from a family with long ties to the local community — his grandfather was Tom Legan, who served as a Santa Clara County supervisor in the 1980s and 90s, as the Chronicle reported.
But by way of a message before he went to commit mass murder, Legan left only a couple of Instagram posts. One which derided the annual garlic festival in his town as peddling "overpriced shit," and one that told people to read a renowned nineteenth-century white-supremacist manifesto, Might Is Right. That came with an image of Smokey the Bear with sign that said "Fire Danger High Today." The post mentions both "white Silicon Valley twats" and uses a term for mixed-race Latinx people, referring to "overcrowded" towns. Both posts went up shortly before the shooting took place.
A third image showed his maternal grandfather, an Iranian American, and it had been posted several days before the shooting.
The paltry other clues he gave include shouting "I'm really angry" when a festival-goer asked him why he was doing what he was doing.
Also, there's a chilling account involving a couple who were vendors at the festival, who ran out of their booth to confront Legan after they saw him climb through a perimeter fence. Wendy Towner, who remains hospitalized in critical condition, was possibly the first person shot by Legan on Sunday. According to a GoFundMe page she shouted, "No you can't do that!" after seeing him come through the fence — her sister tells NBC Bay Area she had seen the gun and shouted "You are not going to do this here!" from ten feet away. She was immediately shot, as was her husband who came running. They are the two parents whose confused three-year-old was then reportedly hidden in safety by a 10-year-old girl at the booth. But after shooting the couple, witnesses say Legan approached them and asked, "Are you OK?" The sister believes he wanted to make sure they were dead, and they played dead rather than respond. Legan's gun then reportedly jammed, and he dropped a magazine right beside Towner's head before loading another and moving on. Six-year-old Stephen Romero was one of his next victims as he fired on a children's play area — a 12-year-old girl was also shot and injured while in a bounce house, and she greeted Gov. Gavin Newsom in the hospital yesterday.
Today, I met with a 12-year-old who was shot while in a bounce house. A grandmother mourning the loss of her 6-year-old grandson.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 30, 2019
This is America today -- the shootings continue. Loved ones are buried. Children are gunned down. And Congress does nothing. pic.twitter.com/JLNb3vdAcM
Newsom said he was appalled by the violence and equally appalled by those claim that every time there's a mass shooting, liberals "politicize" it as they mourn the dead.
"There was a 12-year-old shot who smiled when I walked into the room. I asked, ‘How are you smiling? You just got shot,’” Newsom said, per the Chronicle. "And she starts describing the courage as she was running away after she was shot and kept running. And here she is, comforting the governor."