Gilroy, CA – The gunman who killed three and wounded numerous others at the famed Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday was illegally possessing his weapon.
Authorities said that the 19-year-old man who went on a shooting spree on the last day of the popular festival bought his weapon legally in Nevada on July 9, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Agent Robert Topper said the gun used in Gilroy was an “AK-47 variant... based on the original AK-47,” but did not know the particular model, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Guns like the semi-automatic rifle used by the shooter at the festival are illegal to buy or sell in California, with very few exceptions for people with special permits.
In fact, all gun sales to people under the age of 21 are illegal in California.
But authorities in Gilroy said Monday that they believed the gunman legally purchased his weapon while he was living in Nevada, where the minimum age to purchase that gun is 18, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The owner of the gun shop in Fallon, Nevada, who sold the gun that was used in Gilroy just three weeks earlier, posted some details of his interactions with the gunman on Facebook Monday in a post that offered condolences to the victims’ loved ones.
“We feel so very sorry for the Families, I am heartbroken this could ever happen,” wrote Mike of Big Mikes Guns and Ammo. “Please show only respect here. Good people have been hurt and this goes against everything I believe in. I have always said we will sell to good people and have done everything we can to make sure this happens.”
“We obey the Laws, We are a small home business, we sell to people who we think are upstanding citizens to promote safe sport shooting,” the post continued. “I pray to God for all the families. I did not know this individual. He ordered the rifle off my internet page. When I did see him, he was acting happy and showed no reasons for concern. I would never ever sell any firearm to anyone who acted wrong or looks associated with any bad group like white power. Everyone is my brother and sister and I am mourning for the families.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Monday that it was likely the gunman broke state gun laws, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“That weapon could not be sold in California. That weapon cannot be imported into the state of California,” Becerra said. “There is a very strong likelihood, as we develop the evidence, that the perpetrator in this particular case, violated California law, on top of the crimes of homicide.”
California implemented new guns laws as of 2019 that extended prohibitions on gun purchases to people under 21 to include rifles and shotguns in response to the Parkland school massacre in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
State law also bans citizens of California from purchasing firearms in another state and bringing them back home.
ATF data showed that 58 percent of the 80,561 guns recovered in California in 2016 and 2017 had come from out of state, showing that people are ignoring the law.
A 2017 report issued by Chicago, a city which has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States, showed that the majority of weapons seized in the Windy City came from out of state, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Fully one-fifth of the guns recovered in Chicago came from the much more gun-friendly state of Indiana, next door to Illinois.
“We can’t enforce California laws in Nevada,” California’s attorney general said. “The reach of the California law ends at our borders.”
Besides ignoring the California border, the shooter also ignored the gun-free zone at the festival.
The festival was enclosed by a fence and security searched bags at the entrance to ensure that nobody was bringing in any weapons.
“It appears as though they had come into the festival via the creek which borders a parking area. They used some sort of a tool to cut through the fence to be able to gain access through the secure fence line, and that’s how they got into the festival area itself,” the Gilroy police chief said at a press conference.
There were initial reports of a possible second shooter or accomplice, but so far no evidence has materialized supporting the reports that a second person was involved.