The FBI said it is opening a domestic terrorism investigation into last week’s mass shooting that killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California. The news comes on top of a domestic terrorism investigation opened by the FBI into the attack in El Paso that killed 22 people on Saturday.
John Bennett, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco office, said during a press conference Tuesday that investigators have determined that the Gilroy shooter “explored violent ideologies” and created a list of political, religious, and governmental targets prior to the attack. The target list directly led investigators to treat the incident as domestic terrorism, Bennet said.
“We are still looking for the motive in this crime, but due to the information we have uncovered, we are opening a full domestic terrorism investigation.”
Bennett said the shooter, 19-year-old Santino William Legan, “appeared to have an interest in varying, competing violent ideologies” and has not determined if he settled on one.
Legan posted online about a 19th-century, proto-fascist book moments before he opened fire, as The Daily Beast first reported. He also raged about “hoards of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats.” During the attack someone reportedly asked Legan “why are you doing this?” and he responded, “Because I’m really angry.”
“Much of our work remains ongoing, one piece of evidence does not necessarily constitute a motive,” Bennett said.
The FBI is continuing to sift through data on multiple devices used by the shooter to see if anyone had prior knowledge of Legan’s intentions, and why he chose the popular food festival as his realized target.
Legan’s family released their first statement since the shooting following the Tuesday press conference, sharing their own horror and expressing condolences to the families of the victims.
“Our family is deeply shocked and horrified by the actions of our son,” the statement read. “... We have never and would never condone the hateful thoughts and ideologies that led to this event, and it is impossible to reconcile this with the son we thought we knew.”
In El Paso, federal authorities said they are considering domestic terrorism charges for the alleged perpetrator of the attack, who apparently posted a racist manifesto online justifying violence against Hispanic people.