Five people who were injured during a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July have filed a lawsuit against the event’s organizers. They claim that the organizers didn’t take enough security measures to protect attendees from the shooter.
On July 28, suspect Santino Legan cut through a perimeter to get to the festival. He fired 39 rounds from a semi-automatic rifle, killing three people. Legan died of a self-inflicted gun wound.
The lawsuit centers on what the plaintiffs’ lawyers claim were “inadequate and outdated security policies” and measures that failed to account for the modern-day threats posed to large festivals and events that draw tens of thousands of people.
“Defendants had reason to know the history of the threat of an active shooter situation at outdoor venues,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit claims that the center had an “inadequate, flimsy, low-height unsupported chain link fence that was simple to breach, located inappropriately where the shooter’s presence and entrance would be concealed by a wooded area” that was made “even worse by allowing cars, box trucks and and/or other obstructions to be placed” near the site where Legan allegedly entered.
Wendy Towner, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said that she thought things were safe and under control at the festival. “It’s been hard to think that we weren’t safe out there.”
Towner and her husband Francisco Aguilera, who was also injured at the festival, spent five weeks in the hospital and each racked up over $2 million in medical bills. Towner said they still don’t know how much of those bills health insurance will cover.
Towner and Aguilera have both been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and never leave each other’s side in public. They have found support from a group of fellow survivors who were hurt in the shooting or were on the grounds that day. They meet every week to talk about what happened.
“I don’t know what medical bills we’re going to have in the future, what surgeries we might need,” Towner said. “We need to make sure that every single one of us is taken care of.”
“There is a need for compensation in this case,” attorney Randall Scarlett said. “But if you talk with any of the clients you see their overriding concern is that this not be allowed to happen again.”