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Garlic Fest Singer Says He Heard Shooter Speak

As the father of a murdered 6-year-old shares wrenching words
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2019 8:06 AM CDT
Updated Jul 29, 2019 3:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Six-year-old Stephen Romero has been identified as one of the three people killed by a gunman Sunday at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. His father spoke to NBC Bay Area, and his words are heart-piercing: "There’s nothing I really can do besides try to be with him until I can put him in his resting spot, wherever that is," says Alberto Romero. Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee on Monday confirmed the shooter was Santino William Legan, 19, of Gilroy. The AP reports his family's home and a "dusty car" outside it were searched by police Monday.

  • A 13-year-old girl and 20-something man were the other two fatalities, reports the AP. A dozen others were wounded.
  • Smithee says officers were outgunned by the shooter, who used an AK 47-style rifle that was bought legally on July 9 in Nevada. Still, three officers managed to quickly shoot and kill the gunman.
  • CNN reports Instagram posts made by someone who shares the suspect's name (the account has since been deleted) reference a white supremacist book and included a photo of people at the garlic festival on Sunday just prior to the shooting. Rolling Stone identifies the book as Might Is Right.

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  • The Daily Beast elaborates on the book, describing it as a "proto-fascist book" from the 1800s that "glorifies 'Aryan' men, condemns inter-marriage between races and defends violence based on bogus eugenicist tropes."
  • CBS San Francisco spoke with the lead singer of Tinman, the band that was closing out the festival on Sunday. Jack van Breen says he heard someone yell "why are you doing this?" at the shooter. The answer van Breen heard: "Because I'm really angry."
  • NBC Bay Area reports Stephen Romero's mother and maternal grandmother were also shot and notes Stephen celebrated his birthday at Legoland just last month and was set to begin first grade.
  • The Mercury News reports Romero learned about the shooting via a phone call from his wife while at home in San Jose; he was with his 9-year-old daughter. Romero had opted to stay home so he could study for an electrical exam. "They shot him," Barbara Aquirre told him.
  • Romero says he rushed to St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy to be with his son and was told upon his arrival "they were working on him, and five minutes later they told me he was dead."
  • The shooter was killed and Reuters reports his motive remains unknown. Police are searching for a possible second suspect. Smithee says the shooter entered via a fence along a parking lot by a creek, thereby avoiding the metal detectors at the festival's entrance.
(Read more Garlic Fest shooting stories.)

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