Many media outlets have reported that alleged Gilroy shooter Santino Legan had a racist Instagram post or two, and anonymous sources in law enforcement say they’ve found more “extremist materials.”
At 9 a.m. this morning, Gilroy police finally started letting people back to their cars that were still parked at the Christmas Hill Park parking lot following Sunday’s tragic Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, as the area is a crime scene that is still in some ways sealed off. Gilroy police and FBI agents are still trying to piece together exactly what happened and why; we do know that the 19-year-old suspected gunman bought his AK-47-type assault rifle in Nevada, where he’d lived for about two months this spring, and that he’d shouted “I’m really angry” during the act of firing his shots at random. But KGO adds new details, including that Legan had a second gun in his car, also illegally smuggled in from Nevada, and that he’d visited several big box retail stores immediately prior to the shooting.
The Los Angeles Times takes us through the steps of what investigators think Legan did in the hours leading up to the shooting. At some point in the afternoon, he went shopping at several unnamed stores in the area. It has not been revealed what he bought. He parked on the northeast part of the Christmas Hill Park festival grounds, carried his assault rifle and bag of ammunition with him, but left the shotgun in his car. He dropped the ammunition bag after stocking the rifle, and cut through a fence before killing three people and injuring a dozen more.
But what was his real motive? Several news outlets have noted his racist Instagram posts, and NBC News adds the posts contained “slurs against mixed-race people and misogynistic descriptions of white Silicon Valley workers.” But that’s not an open-and-shut case for law enforcement, though the Times also reports that “authorities had recovered extremist materials during a search.”
Speaking on the record, FBI special agent Craig Fair said at a Tuesday news conference that “A review of digital media historically has been very revealing in terms of somebody’s mindset, ideological beliefs, intentions.” The Times also spoke with a few of Legan’s one-time neighbors, only to get the boilerplate ‘quiet and kept to himself’-type descriptions.
Experts have also been saying in recent days — as we did here — that there could be more parallels to the 2017 Las Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock. Both men opted to target innocent people at a festival, both bought weapons in Nevada, and both might have been silently angry men whose exact, complicated motives we may never satisfyingly understand.
This, of course, sparks the ethical conversation of whether the media should be delving into the intricate life stories of mass murders and hate crime perpetrators, as doing so can amplify and glorify their message, whatever it may be. NiemanReports has a lengthy, 6,000-word analysis on how various outlets have handled (or mishandled) that particular dilemma, and assesses whether the tactic of “strategic silence,” or not disclosing the killer’s image, name, or ideology, is the ethical course of action.
It’s a fair and open question, but SFist will name the fatal victims in this capacity: here are the links where you can support the GoFundMe memorial funds for six-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby.
Image: Screenshot via @wavyia