Silicon Valley Leaders React to Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

As news broke on Sunday evening that a gunman had open fired on a crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, public officials poured out heartfelt words of support.

Nineteen-year-old Santino William Legan reportedly cut through a fence on the last day of the annual festival and murdered three people—including 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 12-year-old Keyla Salazar and 25-year-old Trevor Irby.

About a dozen others were wounded before police fatally shot Legan.

A press release sent out Monday afternoon provided an update on the conditions and number of victims. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center received seven patients.

One had been discharged and another was transferred to the Stanford Medical Center the day following the shooting. Of the remaining five, one patient is in critical condition, one is in serious condition and another is in fair condition. Two patients asked that their condition not be disclosed.

St. Louise Regional Medical Center received six patients with gunshot wounds, two of whom were transferred to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Of the remaining four, three were discharged and one died. Eight other patients came through the hospital with non-gunshot injuries, however, none were admitted.

At a press conference Sunday, Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco reflected on the fateful day.

“This is a tragic incident for our community,” he said. “On behalf of the city and the Gilroy City Council our thoughts and prayers go out the victims and families.”

In the wee hours of the morning, Velasco announced on Facebook that the city administrator signed a local emergency proclamation. The document allows Gilroy officials to request additional resources and be reimbursed by the state.

Another local mayor, San Jose’s Sam Liccardo, also posted online Sunday about the ordeal, stating that units from the city’s police and fire departments were en route to assist Gilroy. On Monday morning, he expressed his condolences to family of the youngest victim of the shooting.

Liccardo has been outspoken in the past about enacting stricter gun laws. Earlier this year, for example, he proposed that San Jose crack down on straw purchases. The initiative would require gun sellers to record video and audio of all transactions and train staff to keep an eye out for straw purchases. It would also ban people from selling guns out of homes and require all gun shops to post signage stating the local laws and offering resources for people effected by domestic violence.

Authorities say Legan bought his WASR-10 semiautomatic rifle legally in Nevada.

San Jose Councilwoman Maya Esparza’s connection to Sunday’s tragedy runs deep. The District 7 rep revealed on Facebook Monday that Romero was her cousin. While she was not readily available for comment, she expressed her grief online.

“Heartache and prayers for my cousins who were wounded yesterday and losing my little cousin, only 6-years-old,” Esparza wrote on Facebook. “And I’m so angry, so angry. This violence has to stop. How do some people have such little regard from life?”

Esparza’s former employer, Destination: Home, offered its support to the council member during this trying time.

District 5 Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco added her words of support for Romero’s family. The 6-year-old was from Carrasco’s district in East Side San Jose.

“I’m so unbelievably and deeply deeply saddened,” she wrote. “This cuts me to my core.”

A GoFundMe page was started by the South County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership for the Romero family. As of 3pm Monday, more than $23,000 had been raised by 564 individual donors. According to the page, Romero’s mother remains in the hospital.

The dealership also set up a page for Salazar.

San Jose Councilman Sergio Jimenez and his family were among the thousands of people in attendance at the garlic-themed festival when the shots rang out. While elected officials are often restricted with what they can do at the local level, Jimenez said he was waiting for more info to be released to see what—if any—policy initiatives he could take in reaction to the South County massacre.

“Once all the facts are out we [can] deconstruct the event to figure out what could have been done differently to prevent such a tragedy,” he said.

Other South Bay elected officials to extend their support to survivors include Santa Clara County supervisors Mike Wasserman, Susan Ellenberg, Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), who served on the Board of Supervisors in the 1980s and ’90s when the gunman’s grandfather was on the board, expressed outrage.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) said the shooting highlights the urgent need for stricter gun control laws. “While we process our deep loss and sorrow, we must remember that we have the agency to prevent future tragedies,” she wrote in a news release. “This is yet another reminder of the urgent need for gun control.”

Jessica Blitchok, a volunteer with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, called on others to take a stand in a statement on the organization’s website.

“There is nothing more natural for California families than attending local food festivals with our kids,” she wrote. “The thought that a family event in Gilroy turned violent breaks my heart, and my thoughts go out to the whole community and everyone affected. Even in a state like California, where we pride ourselves on our strong gun laws, there is more we can—and must—do to protect our families and communities.”

A vigil will be held at 6 tonight in the plaza between Gilroy’s library and City Hall.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

4 Comments

  1. Wow, I’m really surprised , where are all the bleeding hart libs crying about police over reacting and shooting to death a 19 year old kid. Well ?

  2. This was obviously not a typical 19 year old “kid” but a guy killing people. Velasco and Lofgren are two highly corrupted politicians that typically give a blind eye to officials engaging in violence. Velasco, the young woman from a Gilroy that her father a former SJPD Officer and current Santa Clara County Sheriff deputy attempted to choke in May is still waiting for a call from you or an email. How many times the Gilroy Police will give a pass to this criminal with a badge? The 19 year old shooter was a piece of cake for the criminal police officers of Gilroy.

      • If receiving negative feedback will be significant enough for those that expose corruption, no one will do that. I am actually glad of your response since it demostrare how you find these statements and information outrageous. Now, try to stop and think for a moment what would be your feelings if this is actually true? I have documentation that all these statements are real and that Lofgren, Velasco, Cortese, Gilroy Police have supported this criminal by action or ignoring. Sure Gilroy Police and other departments have decent officers. When the corruption is this big, it the the bad apples who have the power. Luckily, victims of these crimes and corruption are ready to speak up. Expect that. We the people are ready to give the fight; WHATEVER AND WHOEVER IT TAKES!

Leave a Reply