(TMU) — As California reels from the latest mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, new details have revealed the hateful white supremacist motives behind 19-year-old suspect Santino William Legan’s massacre of innocent people on Sunday night.
The shooting, which happened on the final day of the long-running annual festival in the agricultural central coast town, has already claimed three lives and injured 12, in addition to the shooter who was shot to death by police.
Victims include 6-year-old Stephen Romero, who died in hospital following the shooting and has been described as a “happy kid” by his grandmother. The shooter also killed 13-year-old Keyla Salazar of San Jose and 25-year old college graduate Trevor Irby from Romulus, New York.
Santino Legan, who identifies as Italian-Iranian, used a legally purchased SKS rifle, often misidentified in the press as an AK-47 or “AK-47-style rifle”, that he bought earlier this month in Nevada to carry out the indiscriminate mass shooting.
In his final posts to Instagram, made moments before the shooting, the young man expressed his racial hatred for the crowds who come to the charity festival in the majority-Latino Northern California town, which lies close to the Bay Area.
In one post, that is believed to have been made from the festival through his now-deleted account, Legan said:
“Ayyy garlic festival time. Come get wasted on overpriced shit.”
In a second post accompanied by an image of a Smokey the Bear sign about fire danger, Legan made reference to a notorious white supremacist book written in 1890 that has been described by Holocaust denier and individualist anarchist James J. Martin as “one of the most incendiary works ever to be published anywhere,” according to Heavy.
In the post, Legan wrote:
“Read Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard. Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats?”
Mestizos is a pejorative term used to describe people of mixed descent, particularly those who are of mixed European and/or Hispanic and indigenous Native American descent.
More about Might is Right and how one white power site described it. Note how they describe leftists as being enemies and making white ppl feel bad for their existence. We have a serious problem. pic.twitter.com/KCzQJ7ZoS2
— Charlotte Morley (@charlottemorl13) July 29, 2019
As Heavy notes, Might Is Right has been described in the book Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Subculture as a manifesto that expands on Friedrich Nietzsche’s “theories of master-slave morality and herd mentality,” which are often cited by adherents of the neo-fascist, neo-nazi and white supremacist alt-right as validation for their Social Darwinist, misogynistic and racist beliefs.
Additionally, the book also claims “that the woman and the family as a whole is the property of the man and proclaiming the innate superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race. The book also contains many strong anti-Semitic statements.”
In posts to white supremacist online community Stormfront, one user comments that the book is “a great book that every Aryan should read” while another says it is a great book to read alongside the infamous neo-Nazi fantasy The Turner Diaries and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
One-star reviews of the book on Amazon also describe the book as “a book written by white supremacists, for white supremacists”:
“A book designed to give white supremacists moral standing to commit genocide. unfortunate such a tome exists in “civilized” society but unfortunately for the earth many caucasian people find this book amazing. For that reason alone its important everyone reads this book to better understand the mentality of a white supremacist.”
Another reviewer notes:
“What should have become a laughable relic of late 19th and early 20th century politics has become an essential piece of hate literature for the White Power/Nazi movement. That alone should speak volumes about the merit of this garbage. The book takes great care in flattering the delusions of grandeur of its target audience and gives credence to their fantasies of being persecuted by the modern world and its ‘morality.’”
However, a positive reviewer hails the book in the language typical of the extreme right:
“The author claims that religion ( specifically Christianity and Judaism ) is poison for the brain and a Jewish prophet should be their prophet and not yours. This ‘yours’ directly means the white man. That our model in life should be the man with the spear in his hand that conquers and annihilates the weak ones around us … the author considers that the black man or Jewish people as being inferior, since they never had a true ruler that build up civilizations or a very important role in history.”
Santino also posted an image of his maternal grandfather, Ali Ashgar Vahabzdaeh, accompanied by a note explaining how he anglicized his name to Ali Baylor from his original Persian name. An obituary from the Ventura County Star further notes that the Iranian-born Baylor went by the name Allen O. Baylor and taught economics at the University of Texas, Californian Lutheran University and UCLA.
While Legan’s own mixed racial heritage may seem like a strange fit for a potential white identitarian, he wouldn’t be the first person of Iranian-American descent to be attracted to the extreme right. Jason Reza Jorjani, a prominent alt-right activist and former editor-in-chief of neo-fascist publishing house Arktos Media, is also proud of his Persian descent.
Gilroy Shooter Santino William Legan read a book called Might is Right that contained white supremacist ideology.
New report: All of the extremist killings in the US in 2018-2019 had links to right-wing white supremacy extremism, according to new report. pic.twitter.com/dXkxtQKZG3
— Joe Negan (@mynameisNegan) July 29, 2019
Additionally, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six college students in the 2014 Isla Vista shooting, was also of mixed Asian-European ethnicity, yet affiliated with online white supremacist communities and penned a long screed expressing hatred for women and interracial couples before committing the massacre that ended when he took his own life.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival massacre comes amid a major spike in domestic terrorist incidents fueled in large measure by an upswing in white supremacist and neo-nazi sentiments in the U.S.
Last Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee about the growing number of domestic terror cases in the U.S., noting that his agency made nearly 100 domestic terrorism-related arrests this year, a higher figure than the entirety of such arrests last year.
During an exchange with Sen. Dick Durbin, Wray admitted:
“A majority of the domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”
In March, a report the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino said:
“White nationalism has reflected a coarsening of mainstream politics, where debates on national security and immigration have become rabbit holes for the exploitation of fear and bigotry.”