Gilroy gunman evaded California's strict gun laws, says Senator

People run for cover as a gunman opened fire during a food festival in California, US. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Washington Jul 30, 2019, 01.31 PM (IST)

A 19-year-old California man, identified by the police on Monday as the gunman who opened fire at a garlic festival in California's Gilroy, exploited a loophole in the gun laws to bring in the assault rifle he used in the attack.

Santino William Legan chose to purchase his assault-style weapon in Nevada because of the state's lax gun laws, Senator from California Dianne Feinstein said on Twitter on Monday.

"The gun used by the Gilroy shooter... is illegal to buy or possess in California, which appears to be why the shooter crossed into Nevada to buy the gun. The Assault Weapons Ban legislation I introduced earlier this year would have prevented that sale from happening," Feinstein said in her tweet.

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Legan legally purchased the AK-47-type assault rifle in Nevada on July 9 and brought the arms to California illegally, according to authorities.

He cut through a fence at the festival on Sunday evening in order to evade metal detectors and other security measures at the front entrance and shot people, seemingly at random, with an "AK-47-style" assault rifle, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee told reporters. Four people were killed and 15 others injured in the attack.

"It could have gone so much worse so fast," Smithee said, noting that the popular festival, which takes place about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Silicon Valley, is attended by thousands of visitors.

Police and FBI agents were still trying to determine a motive for the shooting.

Watch: Shooter identified as a teen named Santini William Legan

President Donald Trump described the gunman as a "wicked murderer" during an event at the White House and asked Americans to pray for the victims.

"We grieve for their families, and we ask that God will comfort them with his overflowing mercy and grace," Trump said.

Legan appeared to post a photograph from the festival on his Instagram account shortly before the shooting, with captions expressing his disdain for the event.

"Ayyy garlic festival time," he wrote beneath a picture of people walking through the festival grounds. "Come get wasted on overpriced shit."

A vigil was scheduled in Gilroy for the victims on Monday evening.

Founded in 1979, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual event run by volunteers and held outdoors at Christmas Hill Park. The agricultural community bills itself as the "Garlic Capital of the World."

Weapons of any kind are prohibited, according to the event's website, which also said anyone wearing clothing or paraphernalia indicating membership in a gang, including a motorcycle club, would be refused entry.