THE teen gunman who killed three at a California festival promoted a controversial book popular with white supremacists before opening fire on crowds.
Santino William Legan, 19, targeted revellers at the Gilroy Garlic Festival with an “assault-type rifle” on Sunday, injuring at least 15 others.
He was shot dead by cops, but not before he had killed a six-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a 25-year-old college graduate.
In the hours before the bloodbath, Legan complained about mixed race people and Silicon Valley in a series of Instagram posts.
Legan shared one photo depicting Smokey the Bear in front of a sign saying “fire danger high today”.
In the caption, he told his followers to read the 19th century book ‘Might is Right’, which claims race determines behaviour and is beloved by far-right extremist groups.
“Read Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard,” Legan says.
“Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white t****?”
Mestizos is a racist slur towards mixed race people.
Redbeard, which was a pseudonym, argued that only strength and violence determined what is morally right.
The work, which is filled with misogynistic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, is a staple among neo-Nazis.
Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center on Hate and Extremism, told the LA Times: “The notion that people of colour are biologically inferior is a key tenet of this book”.
He added: “It stands out as among the worst bigoted screeds of its era promoting biological determinism and racial prejudice.”
Legan’s since-deleted Instagram account says he is Italian and Iranian.
Minutes before the shooting, he had posted a photo from the festival saying: “Ayyy garlic festival time. Come get wasted on overpriced s***.”
The festival in Gilroy, which is about 80 miles (176km) southeast of San Francisco, had security that required people to pass through metal detectors and have their bags searched.
But the shooter cut through a fence that borders a parking lot next to a creek, cops said.
He then opened fire on the crowds, sending panicked people running away and diving for cover under tables and a concert stage.
The band Tin Man was just starting an encore when shots rang out at the festival just after 5.30pm, sending them diving for cover.
Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area with what looked like an assault rifle.
Van Breen says he heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” and the reply: “Because I’m really angry.”
Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said police responded in less than a minute and Legan turned his “AK-47-type” gun on them.
Three officers fired back and killed Legan, who legally purchased the weapon this month in Nevada, where his last address is listed.
The weapon that Legan used was a WASR 10 with a 7.62.
It is a semi-automatic rifle built in Romania that looks like a military style AK-47.
The weapon, with its standard clip and stocks, is considered an assault rifle that is banned under California law.
The weapon is legal in Nevada, according to multiple law enforcement sources.
Some witnesses reported a second suspect, but it was unclear whether that person was armed or just helped in some way.
A manhunt for a possible accomplice is still ongoing.
Cops searched the two-story home of Legan’s family less than a mile from the garlic festival and a dusty car parked outside.
Jan Dickson, a neighbour across the street, said Santino Legan had not lived there for at least a year and that SWAT officers came to the home Sunday night.
She 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,” Ms Dickson said.
The shooting killed six-year-old Stephen Romero, a 13-year-old girl and 25-year-old college graduate Trevor Irby.
“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 Stephen was “always kind, happy and, you know, playful.”
Keuka College said Irby was a biology major who graduated in 2017 from the school in upstate New York.
Officials didn’t release the name of the girl who died.
The wounded were taken to multiple hospitals, and their conditions ranged from fair to critical, with some undergoing surgery.
At least five have been released.
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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,” Trump said before an event at the White House.
In a tweet, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the bloodshed “nothing short of horrific” and said he was grateful for the police response.
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