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Two children among victims as three killed in California festival shooting

Police said a teenager appeared to target people randomly when he fired a rifle at Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Investigators at the Gilroy Garlic Festival (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Investigators at the Gilroy Garlic Festival (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A gunman has killed three people at a popular food festival in California, including a six-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, and injured 12 others before police shot him dead, authorities said.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said Santino William Legan, 19, appeared to randomly target people when he fired with a rifle on Sunday afternoon, the end of the three-day Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Legan had cut through a fence and opened fire on a crowd eating and listening to music.

Police responded in less than a minute and he turned his “assault-type rifle” on the officers, Mr Smithee said. Three officers fired back and killed Legan, who had bought the gun legally this month in Nevada.

The police chief said Legan’s motive was not known.

The festival attracts more than 100,000 people to the city known as the Garlic capital of the world.

The event, in the agricultural city of 50,000 about 80 miles south east of San Francisco, had security that required people to pass through metal detectors and have their bags searched.

Legan sneaked in through a fence bordering a car park next to a stream, the police chief said.

Some witnesses reported a second suspect, Mr Smithee said, but it was unclear whether that person was armed or just helped in some way. A manhunt stretched into Monday.

Six-year-old Stephen Romero, a 13-year-old girl, and Trevor Irby, a biology major in his 20s, were killed, officials said.

“My son had his whole life to live and he was only six,” Alberto Romero told San Francisco Bay Area news station KNTV. “That’s all I can say.”

The boy’s grandmother, Maribel Romero, told Los Angeles station KABC-TV that she searched several hospitals before learning he had died. She said he was “always kind, happy and, you know, playful”.

The wounded were taken to multiple hospitals and their conditions ranged from fair to critical, with some undergoing surgery. At least five were treated and released.

Police searched the two-storey home of the gunman’s family and a dusty car parked outside, less than a mile from the festival, before leaving the house with paper bags and what appeared to be other evidence.

A woman who lives across the street said Legan had not lived there for at least a year. Jan Dickson called the Legans “a nice, normal family”.

“How do you cope with this? They have to deal with the fact that their son did this terrible thing and that he died,” she said.

The band TinMan was starting an encore at the festival on Sunday when the shooting started. Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and greyish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle.

Van Breen said he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” The reply: “Because I’m really angry.”

The audience began screaming and running, and the five members of the band and others dove under the stage.

President Donald Trump condemned the “wicked murderer”.

“We express our deepest sadness and sorrow for the families who lost a precious loved one in the horrific shooting last night in Gilroy, California,” he said before an event at the White House.

In a tweet, California governor Gavin Newsom called the bloodshed “nothing short of horrific” and said he was grateful for the police response.

PA

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