The gun dealer who sold a WASR-10 to the man who killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California last month says he’s facing approximately 15 lawsuits, and a GoFundMe page aims to raise $10,000 to help with legal costs.
Investigators believe 19-year-old Santino William Legan used a Romanian variant of the AK-47, selling for about $700 at Big Mike’s Guns and Ammo in Fallon, Nevada, where he picked up the weapon.
Now the owner of the store is preparing financially as he predicts those blaming him will seek damages and believes he could receive as many as 50 legal complaints.
‘We hope we don’t need the funds and would love to return it or donate it,’ Michael Christopherson wrote in an amended post on the Big Mike’s G&A Facebook page.
The fundraiser was set up by a friend and customer of Christopherson who explained ‘all funds will be used to pay for legal expenses’.
He suggested that the gun dealer’s family were in danger as a result of people learning he sold the weapon to Legan before the July 28 shooting where three were killed and more than a dozen people were injured.
Andrew Morin urged supporters to protect Christopherson against ‘frivolous lawsuits and to provide additional safety measures to keep his family safe from ongoing threats of harm due to another person’s actions and shooting of innocent people in Gilroy.’
The gun was purchased legally earlier in July.
But some people have pointed out that the Walter Lake, Nevada man would not have been able to get the gun in California.
Wendy Towner and husband Francisco Aguilera are among those injured in the carnage that left Keyla Salazar, 13, Trevor Irby, 25, and Steven Romero, six, dead.
Among the survivors, was Alicia Olive and two friends she met at a support group for those involved in the Vegas country music festival shooting in October 2017.
‘That weapon could not be sold in California. That weapon cannot be imported into the state of California,’ California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. ‘The reach of the California law ends at our borders, and so we cannot control what other states do, and that’s what makes it so tough.’
Under a California law that went into effect January 1, residents younger than 21 are barred from buying rifles or shotguns unless they are in the military or law enforcement. You only have to be 18 to buy a rifle in Nevada.
The gunman used a semi-automatic variant of the AK-47, which appears to have a detachable magazine and wooden stock with a pistol grip.
‘Under the configuration of that gun, it would be illegal for him to import it into the state,’ Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said.
Ammunition magazines in California are generally restricted to holding no more than 10 bullets, though that is being challenged in court.
That plus the pistol grip would qualify it as an assault weapon that would have to be registered if it was owned in California and would be illegal to bring into the state.
While the store’s Facebook page has promoted the crowdfunding initiative, on Wednesday they posted a message stating: ‘Some people will want to give to the families instead of us. We back you 100%.
‘Thank you for caring about us…God bless everyone.’
Christopherson has declined to speak to media outlets.
‘Big Mike and his family did nothing wrong and followed all laws. If you are a second amendment supporter, we ask for your help to protect one of our own and their safety. All unused funds will be donated to victim funds.’
Big Mike’s Guns and Ammo in Fallon previously posted on the shop’s Facebook page that ‘we are heartbroken this could ever happen,’ and the business ‘would never sell any firearm to anyone who acted wrong or looks associated with any bad group like white power.’
Mike said he did not know the gunman, and he bought the weapon online before appearing in-person but ‘when I did see him, he was acting happy and show no reasons for concern.’
Legan died of a self-inflicted gun wound after the shooting.