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Lawsuit: Lax Security Led to Deadly Calif. Festival Shooting

In this above July 28, 2018 file photo, police officers escort people from Christmas Hill Park following a deadly shooting during the Gilroy Garlic Festival, in Gilroy, Calif. A lawsuit announced Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, against the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association alleges that negligent security measures allowed a gunman to sneak in and fatally shoot three people. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Northern California food festival was not secure enough to stop a gunman from sneaking in to kill three people and wound 13 others last summer, a lawsuit from five injured victims claims.

Santino William Legan cut through a fence at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28 and opened fire with a rifle, authorities said. The FBI has not determined a motive, saying the 19-year-old appeared to be interested in conflicting violent ideologies. It has opened a domestic terrorism investigation.

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The lawsuit says the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association failed to follow federal guidelines for securing outdoor venues and should have known an active shooter was a “foreseeable” risk.

The festival had security measures including the fence, metal detectors, a bag search and police patrols, officials said. Three officers quickly confronted Legan, who killed himself.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages above $25,000, was filed late Monday in state court against the nonprofit association, the festival’s security contractor and 100 unnamed defendants.

FILE – In this July 29, 2019 aerial file photo, vendor booths line Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, Calif., the site of a shooting the day before, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. A lawsuit announced Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, against the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association alleges that negligent security measures allowed a gunman to sneak in and fatally shoot three people. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

One of the victims, Wendy Towner, said Tuesday that she spent weeks in the hospital after being shot.

“I don’t know what medical bills we’re going to have in the future and what surgeries we might need,” she said at a news conference at her lawyer’s office.

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While medical costs for each victim are “millions of dollars each,” attorney Randall Scarlett said his clients are more concerned with the safety of future events than a monetary award.

Scarlett said he also is preparing a government claim, the precursor to a lawsuit, against the city of Gilroy.

Representatives for the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association could not immediately be reached for comment.