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Coroner Says Gilroy Festival Shooter Killed Himself, Contradicts Police Reports

Police Chief Scot Smithee speaks to reporters following a shooting at the Gilroy, Calif., Garlic Festival, on July 28.
Josie Lepe
Police Chief Scot Smithee speaks to reporters following a shooting at the Gilroy, Calif., Garlic Festival, on July 28.

The Santa Clara County coroner's office says the gunman who fatally shot three people at a festival in Gilroy, Calif., last weekend killed himself, a conclusion that contradicts initial police reports that responding officers killed the shooter.

Nicole Lopez, a senior office specialist in the county's Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office, said that the gunman, Santino William Legan, 19, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee, in a news conference earlier this week, said that three officers confronted the shooter less than a minute after he began the attack and killed him, despite being armed only with handguns. Legan was carrying an assault-style rifle purchased legally in Nevada.

In another press briefing late Friday, Smithee suggested that there was no real contradiction, saying the coroner found that the gunman shot himself in the head after he was taken down by the responding officers.

"The suspect was hit multiple times by the rounds that our officers fired, which put him down," Smithee said. "Once he was down he was able to get a shot off and shot himself."

Smithee called the coroner's office report "preliminary" and said, "It doesn't change anything." He said a full report will reveal how many times the gunman was hit.

Investigators still have not determined a motive for the shooting that killed two children and a man in his twenties. Thirteen people were injured.

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Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.
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