California

What we know about the gun used in the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting

Witnesses describe shooting at Gilroy Garlic Festival

A witness said a man in "full utility" came into the California festival and started shooting on July 28, 2019. Other witnesses captured video of attendees fleeing the scene.
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A witness said a man in "full utility" came into the California festival and started shooting on July 28, 2019. Other witnesses captured video of attendees fleeing the scene.

Authorities on Monday afternoon said the type of rifle the gunman used in Sunday’s Gilroy festival shooting was a variant of an AK-47.

Robert Topper, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said at a press conference that the weapon was “based on the original AK-47,” but he said he didn’t know the specific model.

Authorities said the rifle was legally purchased in Nevada. Citing an unnamed law enforcement source, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that the gun was a WASR-10 semi-automatic rifle.

Such weapons are usually sold with a pistol grip and detachable magazine, features that classify them as “assault weapons” and which are illegal to purchase under California’s strict gun control laws.

A WASR-10 was used in at least one other mass shooting.

On Dec. 5, 2007, Robert Hawkins, 19, killed eight people at an Omaha, Nebraska, shopping mall before killing himself. He was armed with a Century WASR-10 he stole from his stepfather, who legally purchased the weapon, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier Monday, Gilroy police chief Scott Smithee described the weapon as a different type of firearm.

“We found out the rifle this suspect used was an SKS, an AK-47 type assault rifle,” Smithee said at a morning press conference.

SKSs have been used in several mass shootings over the years, including the 2017 shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and two Capitol Police officers at a Washington D.C. baseball practice.

The Violence Policy Center describes SKSs as “A Menace to Public Safety.”

However, the gun shop where the weapon was reportedly purchased — Big Mikes Gun & Ammo of Fallon, Nev. — doesn’t list any SKS models for sale on its website. It does list two WASR-10 models, each costing around $700.

The store posted on its Facebook page Monday: “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.”

Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version based on a morning press conference.

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Ryan Sabalow covers environment, general news and enterprise and investigative stories for McClatchy’s Western newspapers. Before joining The Bee in 2015, he was a reporter at The Auburn Journal, The Redding Record Searchlight and The Indianapolis Star.
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