- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The FBI has opened a full domestic terrorism investigation into the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Northern California, citing the deceased gunman’s “target list” and interest in “violent ideologies.”

John F. Bennett, FBI special agent in charge of the San Francisco field office, said at a Tuesday press conference that the suspect, 19-year-old Santino William Legan, left behind on his digital media a list of organizations that “may have been potential targets of violence.”

“These organizations across the country include religious institutions, federal buildings, courthouses, political organizations from both major political parties, and the Gilroy Garlic Festival,” Mr. Bennett said. “Even though the threat appears to have been mitigated by the subject’s death, the FBI has a responsibility to notify individuals and organizations of potential threats or acts of violence.”

He also said that the suspect “appeared to have an interest in varying, competing violent ideologies,” although authorities provided no details.

“One piece of evidence does not necessarily constitute a motive, hence the need for a thorough, methodical investigation,” Mr. Bennett said.

The shooter fired 39 rounds from an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle during the July 28 attack, killing two children and an adult and wounding 13 others, before turning the gun on himself after being confronted within one minute by three police officers.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said the gunman was wearing a “bullet resistant-type vest,” and had a 75-round drum magazine as well as two 40-round magazines strapped to his body and a Remington Model 870 shotgun in his vehicle.

Before opening a federal domestic terrorism probe, authorities must identify a potential federal violation; the unlawful use or threat of force or violence, and “the existence of ideological motivation,” Mr. Bennett said.

“Having a belief system and also committing an act of violence does not necessarily make that an act of terrorism nor does it give a clear motive,” Mr. Bennett said. “We have to determine that individual’s ideology caused them to commit the act of violence in furtherance of their political and social goals.”

Authorities have previously rebutted reports that the suspect was a white nationalist, saying that he owned reading material on both the left and right of the political spectrum and that investigators had not yet determined his ideological beliefs.

Mr. Bennett said investigators are trying to determine “what if any ideology he had actually settled on” as well as whether he was in contact with anyone regarding his beliefs and whether anyone else knew of his plans for the shooting.

An attorney for the Legan family issued a statement of apology to KGO-TV in San Francisco saying that, “To the City of Gilroy and to everyone affected, we are tremendously sorry.”

“Our family is deeply shocked and horrified by the actions of our son,” the statement read. “To the families of Stephen Romero, Keya Salazar, Trevor Irby, and to the injured that survived this tragedy, we cannot begin to describe our despair at his actions.”

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