Lawsuit: Security lapses led to deadly shooting at Gilroy Garlic Festival

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Northern California food festival was not secure enough to stop a gunman from sneaking in to kill three people and wound 13 others last summer, a lawsuit from five injured victims claims.

Santino William Legan cut through a fence at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28 and opened fire with a rifle, authorities said. The FBI has not determined a motive, saying the 19-year-old appeared to be interested in conflicting violent ideologies. It has opened a domestic terrorism investigation.

The lawsuit says the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association failed to follow federal guidelines for securing outdoor venues and should have known an active shooter was a “foreseeable” risk.

The festival had security measures including the fence, metal detectors, a bag search and police patrols, officials said. Three officers quickly confronted Legan, who killed himself.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages above $25,000, was filed late Monday in state court against the nonprofit association, the festival’s security contractor and 100 unnamed defendants.

One of the victims, Wendy Towner, said Tuesday that she spent weeks in the hospital after being shot.

“I don’t know what medical bills we’re going to have in the future and what surgeries we might need,” she said at a news conference at her lawyer’s office.

While medical costs for each victim are “millions of dollars each,” attorney Randall Scarlett said his clients are more concerned with the safety of future events than a monetary award.

Scarlett said he also is preparing a government claim, the precursor to a lawsuit, against the city of Gilroy.

Representatives for the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association sent a statement to FOX40 Tuesday:

The lawsuit filed today stemming from a horrific act of domestic terrorism, is not unexpected, and we will respond through the appropriate legal channels. As a non-profit organization, we must remain focused on our mission: fundraising for the entire community of Gilroy and the more than 150 charities that rely on us.

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