GILROY, Calif. — The FBI says it has discovered a “target list” compiled by the gunman in a California mass shooting that listed nationwide religious institutions, federal buildings, courthouses and both major political parties.
The list has prompted the FBI to open a domestic terrorism investigation into the case in which 19-year-old gunman Santino William Legan shot and killed three people, including two children, on July 28 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
The festival was also listed as a target.
John Bennett, the FBI’s agent in charge in San Francisco, says authorities still have not determined a motive and Legan appeared to be interested in conflicting ideologies.
A separate shooting that killed 22 people at a crowded El Paso, Texas, store over the weekend is also being handled as a domestic terrorism case.
Legan fatally shot three people with a Romanian-made AK-47-tyle rifle before turning the gun on himself. Thirteen others were injured.
The FBI’s move in Gilroy came as Keyla Salazar’s family was set to hold a funeral Mass Tuesday for the 13-year-old in San Jose.
Federal investigators have fewer tools and legal powers at their disposal in domestic terrorism cases than they do if they are up against someone tied to an international organization such as the Islamic State or al-Qaida.
Law enforcement officials conducting international terrorism investigations, for instance, can get a secret surveillance warrant to monitor the communications of a person they think may be an agent of a foreign power or terror group.
Similarly, the U.S. criminal code makes it a crime for anyone to lend material support to designated foreign terror organizations, including the Islamic State and al-Qaida, even if the investigation doesn’t involve accusations of violence.
There’s no domestic counterpart to that material support statute, meaning federal prosecutors must rely on hate crimes laws, weapons charges and other approaches that might not carry the terrorism label.
Mere membership in, or support for, a white supremacist organization is not illegal.