Teen kills 2 kids, man at California fair

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Investigators examine an area by an inflatable slide at Christmas Hill Park, the scene of Sunday's deadly shooting, Monday, July 29, 2019, in Gilroy, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Authorities are searching for answers to why a 19-year-old opened fire on a popular food festival about a kilometre from his parents' home in California, killing two children and another man.

Santino William Legan, 19, cut through a fence and appeared to randomly target people with an "assault-type rifle" on Sunday afternoon, the end of the three-day Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Six-year-old Stephen Romero, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s were killed, authorities said. At least 12 people were wounded.

Officials didn't release the names of the other two victims. The wounded were taken to multiple hospitals, and their conditions ranged from fair to critical, with some undergoing surgery.

Police responded in less than a minute, and Legan turned his "AK-47-type" gun on the officers, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said.

Three officers fired back and killed Legan, who legally purchased the weapon in Nevada this month.

The annual event attracts about 100,000 people to the city known as the "Garlic Capital of the World", Smithee said.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of the officers who were able to engage this guy as quickly as they did," the police chief said. "We had thousands of people there. It could have gone so much worse so fast. ... There absolutely would have been more bloodshed."

Legan's motive wasn't known, Smithee said.

Legan appeared to post a photograph from the festival on his Instagram account shortly before the shooting accompanied by disgruntled captions. The account only appeared to be a few days old and was deactivated at some point on Monday morning, Reuters reported.

"Ayyy garlic festival time," he wrote in the caption to the picture of people walking through the festival grounds. "Come get wasted on overpriced shit."

The festival in the agricultural city of 50,000 about 176 kilometres southeast of San Francisco had security that required people to pass through metal detectors and have their bags searched.

The shooter sneaked in through a fence that borders a parking lot next to a creek, Smithee said, and the gunfire sent panicked people running away and diving for cover under tables and a concert stage.

Some witnesses reported a second suspect, Smithee said, but it was unclear whether that person was armed or just helped in some way. A manhunt stretched into Monday.

Police searched the two-storey home of Legan's family and a dusty car parked outside before leaving the house on Monday with paper bags and what appeared to be other evidence.

The band TinMan was starting an encore on Sunday when the shooting started. Singer Jack van Breen said he saw a man wearing a green shirt and greyish handkerchief around his neck fire into the food area.

Van Breen, from nearby Santa Clara, said he heard someone shout: "Why are you doing this?" The reply: "Because I'm really angry."

The audience began screaming and running, and the five members of the band and others dove under the stage.

Video posted to social media showed people running in terror as shots rang out.

Evenny Reyes of Gilroy, 13, told the Mercury News in San Jose that she spent the day at the festival with her friends and relatives.

"We were just leaving and we saw a guy with a bandana wrapped around his leg because he got shot. And there were people on the ground, crying," Reyes said. "There was a little kid hurt on the ground. People were throwing tables and cutting fences to get out."

© AP 2019