Gilroy, CA – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced Tuesday that it was opening up a domestic terrorism investigation in the shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
The FBI said that before the gunman opened fire at the popular festival and murdered three people, he had created a target list of religious institutions, Democratic and Republican political organizations, courthouses, and federal buildings, The New York Times reported.
San Francisco FBI Special Agent John F. Bennett told reporters at a press conference on Aug. 6 that the shooter had been exploring several “competing” violent ideologies.
Agent Bennett said investigators were still trying to determine which ideology the gunman had ultimately subscribed to and whether anyone helped him plan the shooting, The New York Times reported.
The special agent said the garlic festival had been on the shooter’s potential target list.
He said investigators did not think the garlic festival gunman had left a manifesto behind that would more clearly explain his motive, The New York Times reported.
The gunman’s rampage happened at about 5:41 p.m. on July 28 on the north side of the festival area as the third day of the popular event that attracted thousands to Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy was wrapping up, KNTV reported.
Witness Julissa Contreras said that the gunman was wearing “tactical gear” during the attack, CNN reported.
“He was dressed for what he was there to do,” Contreras said. “He seemed very well-versed in what he was doing.”
“Officers were in that area and engaged the suspect in less than a minute. The suspect was shot and killed,” Chief Smithee told reporters shortly after the rampage, according to KNTV.
The festival was enclosed by a fence and security searched bags at the entrance to ensure that nobody was bringing in any weapons.
“It appears as though they had come into the festival via the creek which borders a parking area. They used some sort of a tool to cut through the fence to be able to gain access through the secure fence line, and that’s how they got into the festival area itself,” the chief added.
The band Tin Man was performing on stage at the festival when the shooting began, according to KPIX.
Jack van Breen, the band’s singer, told police that he saw a man wearing a green shirt and a gray handkerchief around his neck fire a rifle into the food area.
The band members dove under the stage to escape the threat.
KPIX reported that van Breen said he heard somebody shout “Why are you doing this?” and the gunman replied, “Because I’m really angry!”
Chief Smithee said that there were “many, many officers in the park” when the gunman opened fire “which accounts for the very, very quick response time” to the incident.
Three officers opened fire on the gunman, who then began shooting at them with an “AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle,” KNTV reported.
The suspect was shot multiple times during the gun battle, and collapsed to the ground, Chief Smithee said.
He then managed to use his own weapon to kill himself.
“He was able to get one more round off, and he was able to shoot himself in the head,” the chief explained.
Chief Smithee said that it didn’t matter who fired the bullet that killed the active shooter.
“In my mind, it changes nothing,” he said. “The officers still got there fast, they engaged him fast and drew his fire, and they eliminated the threat.”
He described the officers who stopped the gunman as heroes.
Six-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby were all murdered during the attack.