UPDATE: Gilroy police say suspect Santino William Legan was downed by officer fire before he fatally shot himself

A coroner’s statement on Friday appeared to contradict earlier police account

UPDATE: August 3, 8:18 a.m. ET

In a news conference on Friday, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee addressed the apparent discrepancy between earlier police accounts and a coroner’s statement regarding the cause of death of the Gilroy Garlic Festival gunman Santino William Legan.

Police had said earlier in the week that Legan, 19, was killed by police gunfire within a minute of officer engagement. On Friday, a spokesperson for the Santa Clara County medical examiner said that Legan had died from a self-inflicted, “intra-oral” gunshot. According to CNN, Smithee spoke to reporters later Friday and provided more context.

“I do know that the suspect was hit multiple times by the rounds the officers fired, which put him down,” Smithee reportedly said.

“It appears now, with that ruling on the cause and manner of death, that once he was down, he was able to get a round off and he shot himself. It sounds like that round was to the head.”


The gunman behind a mass shooting in Gilroy, California, on Sunday died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound; not police gunfire, as previously reported.

A spokesperson for the Santa Clara County medical examiner told the Los Angeles Times that Santino William Legan, 19, shot himself at some point during the violence at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday. The gunman reportedly killed himself with a fatal “intra-oral” shot — meaning he put the gun in his mouth and fired, the same way the Route 91 shooting suspect Stephen Paddock killed himself as police were approaching. 

Three other people died in Sunday’s shooting, including a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl.

Gilroy police had previously said in news conferences that responding officers had engaged with Legan, fatally shooting him, within a minute of arriving on the scene, praising three officers for their successful response.

“I think they’re heroes. I don’t think they view themselves that way,” Gilroy Police Chief Smithee said at a news conference on Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I think they view themselves as just doing their job.”

It remains unclear why the police and the coroner appear to have conflicting accounts. According to the report, police have not said how many times Legan was shot, and the coroner’s statement does not say whether he had additional gunshot wounds — that may have been the result of police gunfire.

The police department does not appear to have made a public statement regarding the coroner’s findings.

CrimeOnline will provide further updates once more information is available.


[Feature image: AP Photo/Noah Berger, File]