Tragedy strikes at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

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Tragedy strikes at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

PHOTO BY GILROY HYDRAGYRUM/WIKICOMMONS

PHOTO BY GILROY HYDRAGYRUM/WIKICOMMONS

PHOTO BY GILROY HYDRAGYRUM/WIKICOMMONS

By Jessica Irrera, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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The 40th anniversary of California’s famed Gilroy Garlic Festival took a tragic turn when 19-year-old Santino William Legan unleashed gunfire, killing three and injuring 12 this past weekend.
The Garlic Festival is a popular event that brings roughly 100,000 visitors per year and is run by approximately 4,000 volunteers, according to the New York Times. The event is centralized around garlic, fun, family, and giving back to the community.
The event was being overseen by security and police officers, but the shooter managed to cut through a fence into the festival with his AK-47, which he purchased legally in the state of Nevada, according to the LA Times.
Legan, a Gilroy resident, was killed by police roughly one minute into his rampage, but his efforts, unfortunately, took the life of 6-year-old San Jose native Stephen Romero, a 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby. Twelve other visitors were injured by gunfire, including Romero’s Mother and Grandmother.
Questions of whether the shooter had underlying racist motives for his deadly actions have come up due to his Instagram posts from the day of the shooting, which included language centralized around white-supremacist literature.
One Instagram post, which was later removed from the site, pictured the beloved Smokey the Bear holding a sign that read “Fire danger high today”. The caption discussed the supremacist, Darwinistic 1890’s book “Might is Right” with racist language against people with mixed ethnic backgrounds.
Although California has some of the most strict gun laws in the country, it is clear that there is still a threat of potential harm by gunfire. President Donald Trump responded to the incident in a tweet about Law Enforcement’s success on the scene, and later mentioned the incident at a Rose Garden ceremony on Monday.
“We reaffirm our nation’s will to answer violence with the courage, determination, and resolve of one American family,” Trump said. “We will continue to work as communities and as citizens to stop evil, prevent violence, and protect the safety of all Americans.”
Attempts to “stop evil” have been minuscule, as there have been roughly 2,200 shootings since the Sandy Hook shooting which claimed the lives of 26 people in 2012, according to Vox. Although the State of California has strong gun laws, it is clear that regulations by the state are not enough to restrict access to assault weapons.