The first woman shot by the Gilroy gunman tried to thwart his approach toward several kids then played dead when he stood over her bleeding body and dropped a clip near her head, her sister told the Daily News.
“Are you all right?” the mass shooter chillingly inquired as Wendy Towner and her husband, who was shot three times, lay on the ground, sister Christine Towner said Tuesday.
“They played possum. He was going to finish them. He dropped a magazine clip right next to her head then continued to open fire. My brother-in-law was probably out of it, he was so badly wounded,” Christine, 34, said.
Wendy, 39, was selling honey at the Gilroy Garlic Festival along with husband Francisco Aguilar and their 3-year-old son when she allegedly saw gunman Santino William Legan, 19, climb over a fence.
She confronted him as he brandished his AK-47-type assault rifle, the sister said after speaking with Wendy during her ambulance ride Sunday evening and hearing the harrowing account.
“She saw the gun and started yelling, ‘You’re not going to do this.’ She had multiple children in her own booth and then the bouncy house was nearby, too. She was trying to stop him from taking out as many people as he could,” Christine said.
“In my opinion, my sister saved lives. She doesn’t back down from anything. She feared for those kids who were just steps away. There was no thinking, it was straight action. She slowed him down for sure and got people running,” the younger sister said.
Thankfully, the 10-year-old granddaughter of family friend Cheryl Low managed to grab the couple’s 3-year-old son and drag him out of the gunman’s line of sight, Christine said.
“Their son saw everything. He was trying to run to his parents, but that brave girl jumped on him and pulled him under the table. That probably saved his life,” she said.
Christine said a bullet from the gunman’s high-powered rifle shattered her sister’s shin and tore through her leg, exiting out the back. Aguilar was shot twice in his legs and once in his shoulder and nearly died from damage to his femoral artery, the sister said.
The husband and wife remained in a hospital ICU with limited visitors Tuesday awaiting more surgeries, she said.
Concerned relatives set up a GoFundMe online fund-raiser to help cover their medical costs, long recoveries and expenses related to their family-run farm.
“I’m still trying to figure out how we’re going to get through this. She’s the owner of ‘Honey Ladies’ and has a full-sized ranch with horses, cows and sheep,” Christine said.
According to Gilroy Police, armed officers at the scene began shooting at the gunman in less than a minute and killed him in a fierce firefight, despite the fact they were outgunned with only their handguns against a semi-automatic.
“If he had walked into that open circle before he started shooting, he would have had 30 feet in every direction to mow people down,” Christine said Tuesday.
Assault rifles are highly regulated in California, but police say Legan was able to purchase his “legally” in neighboring Nevada on July 9.
Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed his frustration over the loophole after visiting the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center to speak with victims and family members Monday.
“You can’t put borders up, speaking of borders, to a neighboring state where you can buy this damn stuff legally,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “How in the hell is that possible? I have no problem with the 2nd Amendment, you have a right to bear arms but not weapons of goddamned mass destruction.”
Newsom blasted federal leaders for turning a “blind eye” to the epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S.
“California’s doing its part, but Jesus, these guys, the folks in the White House have been supporting the kinds of policies that roll back the work that we’re doing in states like ours to get rid of large-capacity magazines, to address the issues that we’re trying to advance on background checks,” he said.
“And we could only do it for our state. We have to fight in the courts and fight these organized National Rifle Association (lobbyists), but then you have an entire party it seems, completely bankrupt,” he said. “And don’t claim to be compassionate if you’re participating complicitly in the world you’re living in. Society becomes how we behave. The lack of resolve, it’s just an outrage.”
The three innocent victims killed in the rampage included a little boy and a teenage girl, police confirmed Monday.
They’ve been identified by relatives and community members as Stephen Romero, 6; Kayla Salazar, 13, and Trevor Irby, 25, a biology major from Romulus, N.Y., who graduated from Keuka College in 2017.
At least a dozen others also were injured, and five victims remained hospitalized Tuesday, ranging in age from 12 to 69, KTVU reported.
Early in the chaos Sunday, a brother of the shooter reportedly worried Legan might have been a victim in the attack.
Family friend Jerome Turcan told the Los Angeles Times that when he heard about the rampage, he called the shooter’s older brother and learned he was driving around searching for Legan and considered going to an emergency room to see if he was among the wounded.