The Nevada gun dealer who sold the weapon used in the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting says he is facing a barrage of lawsuits in the slaughter’s wake and said a GoFundMe account has been set up to absorb his potential legal costs.
“We hope we don’t need the funds and would love to return it or donate it. God bless everyone,” the owner of Big Mikes Gun and Ammo posted Wednesday on the shop’s Facebook page. “Some people will want to give to the families instead of us. We back you 100%.”
The Reno Gazette-Journal first reported the story. The newspaper said it was unclear whether any lawsuits have been filed against the shop or owner.
But, in a Facebook post since deleted, the gun shop owner said Tuesday that he was facing “in theory, a minimum of 15 lawsuits” from shooting victims, the Gazette-Journal reported.
The customer-created GoFundMe campaign for the shop in Fallon, Nev. – about 60 miles east of Reno – had collected $2,415 toward its $10,000 goal as of Thursday morning, two days into the fund. Organizers say all funds will go to legal expenses, with any unused funds to be donated to victims.
The fund will support the shop “against potential multiple frivolous lawsuits and to provide additional safety measures to keep his family safe from harm due to another person’s actions and shooting of innocent people in Gilroy,” the GoFundMe site read. “Big Mike and his family did nothing wrong and followed all laws.”
The gunman, 19-year-old Santino William Legan, the grandson of a former Santa Clara supervisor, bought the assault-style rifle three weeks before the slayings. The gun, a WASR-10 semi-automatic rifle comparable to an AK-47, is illegal in California, authorities said, but was purchased legally in Nevada. Legan lived for a time in Waller Lake, Nevada.
The shop owner said Legan ordered the rifle off of the store’s website.
The purchase and the carnage that followed weeks later reignited calls from lawmakers to further toughen the state’s stringent gun laws even as experts conceded that California’s gun laws are only as tough as those in the states that surround them.
Folllowing the July 28 shooting at the popular annual event that left three dead– a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a recent college graduate in his 20s – the Fallon gun shop owner in an emotional Facebook post said he hoped Legan would “rot in hell.”
“I am heartbroken this could ever happen,” the shop’s owner wrote. “Good people have been hurt and this goes against everything I believe in.”
Legan killed himself minutes into the shooting spree as he was confronted by Gilroy police, authorities said. After days of seeking a motive, the FBI is now investigating the killings as a potential act of domestic terrorism.
The mass shooting at Gilroy’s annual garlic festival was one of three across the country in seven days.
An entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, and a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, also fell target to mass shootings. Thirty-five were killed and scores injured.
The funeral for Gilroy shooting victim Trevor Irby, 25, was held Thursday in his hometown of Romulus, N.Y., according to the San Jose Mercury News.