USA launches domestic terrorism probe in Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting

FBI says Gilroy shooter had a 'target list' that included political organizations from both parties

FBI Special Agent in Charge John Bennett told reporters at a news conference that while they have not fully determined the shooter's motivation, "we have uncovered evidence throughout the course of our investigation that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies".

Legan's target list, which he kept on at least one digital device, had organizations from across the country and included religious institutions and political organizations affiliated with both the Democratic and Republican parties, Bennett said.

The FBI says Legan appeared to be interested in conflicting violent ideologies, but authorities have not found a written explanation for his attack or any indication of previous violent behavior. Legan turned the gun on himself. Officers fired 18 rounds at Legan and hit him multiple times, but those wounds were not fatal, officials later said.

Investigators were examining Legan's digital media to determine his possible views, whom he may have been in contact with, who, if anyone, helped him and why he committed the violence, Bennett said.

Authorities are continuing to try to determine a motive for the attack in Gilroy and investigate Legan's background.

A separate mass shooting that killed 22 people at a crowded El Paso, Texas, store over the weekend is also being handled as a domestic terrorism case.

FILE PHOTO: A painting by Gilroy resident Ignacio "Nacho" Moya on the stage at a vigil for those who died and were injured at the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival a day earlier, in Gilroy, California, U.S. July 29, 2019.

Bennett added that items seized from Legan's home in Nevada ran the ideological gamut. The weapon looks like a military-style AK-47.

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"To the families of Stephen Romero, Keyla Salazar, Trevor Irby, and to the injured that survived this tragedy, we can not begin to describe our despair at his actions".

They said in a statement Tuesday that they would never condone the "hateful thoughts and ideologies" that led to the incident, and it is "impossible to reconcile this with the son we thought we knew".

Legan had a 75-round drum magazine and five 40-round magazines as he carried out the attack. Authorities added they found additional magazines, a rifle scope, flashlight and shovel in a bag in a nearby creek. In the bag were also loose rounds for the rifle and a shotgun, which police found while searching Legan's auto on Laurel Drive shortly after the shooting.

In order to initiate a federal terrorism investigation, authorities must have reason to believe that a suspect's act of violence was "motivated by their ideology", Bennett said.

Federal investigators have fewer tools and legal powers at their disposal in domestic terrorism cases than they do if they are up against someone tied to an global organization such as Islamic State or al-Qaida.

FBI Agents Association president Brian O'Hare called on Congress to codify domestic terrorism as a federal crime. In a since-removed Instagram post made shortly before the shooting, Legan encouraged people to read a 19th-century white supremacist manifesto popular with right-wing extremists.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, a longtime member of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, where the service was held, said Keyla's death showed the need for both state and federal governments to address mass shootings by improving background checks and mental health services.

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