Instagram posts bearing the name of the suspected Gilroy Garlic Festival gunman mentioned a white supremacist book and showed a picture of people walking around the event, shortly before the shooting began.
The suspect — identified by two law enforcement officials as Santino William Legan, 19 — apparently entered the annual festival, which attracts about 100,000 people every year, by cutting through a back fence and then began shooting at random, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said.
Three people were killed in the Sunday evening attack, including a 6-year-old, and at least 12 others were injured before the gunman was fatally shot by police, authorities said.
Chief Smithee credited a heavy police presence for saving lives as chaos descended on the decades-old festival in Gilroy, a city about 30 miles south of San Jose.
“We had many, many officers in the park at the time this occurred … which accounts for a very, very quick response time,” Smithee said.
Victims whose conditions ranged from fair to serious were transported to area hospitals, hospital officials said.
Witnesses reported seeing a second individual who has not yet been identified or found. Authorities haven’t yet determined how the second person was involved, Smithee said. A manhunt is underway for that suspect, the chief said.
The killings were the latest addition to a bloody list of American mass shootings that have targeted anywhere and everywhere people congregate: at festivals, schools, places of worship, movie theaters, workplaces and bars.
An Instagram account bearing the suspect’s name, created four days ago, posted two messages shortly before the attacks, including a reference to a white supremacist text.
One post was a photo of people walking around the Garlic Festival with the words “Ayyy garlic festival time Come get wasted on overpriced sh**.” The other post, made about an hour later, showed a sign of Smokey Bear saying “Fire Danger High Today.”
“Read Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard,” the caption said. “Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white tw**s?”
A “mestizo” is a person of mixed descent, usually white and Hispanic, or white and American Indian. “Might is Right” is a book published in the late 1800s which has been described as a white supremacist text that promotes anarchy, vilifies Christianity and calls Jesus the “true Prince of Evil.” The natural order, according to the book, is a world at war in which the strong must vanquish the weak, and white men must rule over those of color.