After several years of raising money by raffling firearms, San Jose’s police union leaders have decided to cancel the raffle indefinitely in the wake of a mass shooting in Gilroy last weekend that killed three people and injured more than a dozen others.
“This was planned well in advance of the tragedy in Gilroy,” said Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the San Jose Police Officers Association. “They do this almost every year and it’s always been a service weapon — a handgun they can use on the job. This one absolutely slipped through the cracks. We cancelled it and they are not going to do any future raffles going forward.”
But this is the first time the union raffled off a rifle, Saggau said, similar to the one 19-year-old Santino William Legan used on Sunday to open fire on a crowd gathered at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. An advertisement for the raffle, which would raise money for the police department’s chaplaincy program, first appeared in the union’s monthly magazine, The Vanguard.
The raffle, which cost $20, was set to take place after the union’s August membership meeting.
The Mercury News reported that union leaders nixed the raffle after receiving criticism from former Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell. She told the newspaper she was “shocked” by the insensitivity of the ad.
Regardless of the criticism, Saggau said union president Sgt. Paul Kelly didn’t hesitate to call off the raffle permanently.
“He really understand in light of the tragedy that it’s just not something the (Police Officers Association) will do.”