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Lawsuit: Security Lacking At California Festival Shooting

Noah Berger
AP Photo
In this July 29, 2019 aerial file photo, vendor booths line Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, Calif., the site of a shooting the day before, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Negligent security measures allowed a gunman to sneak in and fatally shoot three people and wound 13 others at a popular Northern California food festival last summer, five of the injured victims claim in a lawsuit.

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

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

Representatives for the association could not immediately be reached for comment.