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Texas mall shooting: All we know about the Allen outlet massacre

Details continue to emerge about the shooting that left eight victims and the gunman dead at Allen Premium Outlets in Texas. Bevan Hurley and Rachel Sharp report

Tuesday 09 May 2023 16:25 BST
Survivors leave the scene of a mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas
Survivors leave the scene of a mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas (Associated Press)

Eight people have died and seven were injured when a gunman dressed in tactical gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas.

The suspect was shot dead by a police officer who was responding to an unrelated call, police said.

He has been identified by law enforcement sources as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, according to NBC News.

Hundreds of shoppers fled from Allen Premium Outlets, a large outdoor shopping centre, after gunfire erupted at about 3.30pm local time on Saturday.

Seven people, including the gunman, were pronounced dead at the scene, and one more died after being taken to hospital, the Allen Police Department said.

Here’s what we know so far about the shooting.

How the shooting unfolded

Dashcam video circulating on social media appeared to show the gunman getting out of a grey sedan just outside the mall’s entrance and immediately beginning to shoot at passersby in the carpark.

More than three dozen shots could be heard in the footage.

Witnesses told CNN that panicked shoppers screamed and hid behind cars as the suspect shot indiscriminately.

Inside the mall, families and employees rushed to take cover in storage areas and hallways, witnesses said.

According to Allen police, an officer attending an unrelated call at Allen Premium Outlets heard gunshots at 3.36pm on Saturday.

The officer “engaged the suspect and neutralised the threat”, police said in a statement on Facebook.

Hundreds of shoppers exiting the Allen Premium Outlets after a mass shooting on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Audio footage obtained by the Daily Mail captured the officer telling dispatch: “I need everybody I got.”

About two minutes after calling for backup, the officer told said he “got him down”.

The area was soon flooded with law enforcement officers and medics.

An image obtained by the media appeared to show the suspect lying on the ground after being shot.

He was dressed in black body armour, with additional magazines strapped to his chest, and an AR-15-style rifle was lying beside him.

Maxwell Gum, a 16-year-old pretzel stand worker, told the Associated Press that terrified shoppers stampeded as they sought safety. He said that he sheltered in a storage room.

Another witness Kingsley Ezeh told CNN he heard a woman behind him scream “someone’s shooting”, and saw a man holding a neck wound that was dripping with blood.

Mr Ezeh said he and others huddled at the back of a store for more than two hours as police cleared the scene.

Allen resident Steven Spainhouer said he rushed to the scene after his son, who was working at an H&M store in the outlet, called him.

Dashcam footage shows the gunman opening fire ( AP)

Mr Spainhouer said he saw several children among the deceased, and tried to perform CPR on several victims. At least three of the people he tried to save succumbed to their injuries at the scene.

“I never imagined in 100 years I would be thrust into the position of being the first first responder on the site to take care of people,” Mr Spainhouer told CBS News.

“The first girl I walked up to was crouched down covering her head in the bushes, so I felt for a pulse, pulled her head to the side and she had no face.”

Video footage showed hundreds of shoppers exiting the mall with their hands raised.

What we know about the victims

Seven people — including the suspect — were killed at the scene, Allen Fire Chief Jonathan Boyd said at a press conference on Saturday. Nine people were transported to hospital, where two more succumbed to their injuries.

Christian LaCour, a 20-year-old security guard at the mall, was identified by family members as one of the victims on Sunday.

LaCour’s grandmother posted a tribute to her grandson on social media.

“He was such a beautiful soul,” she wrote. “I was so proud of him and so glad I got to see him 2 weeks ago.”

Aishwarya Thatikonda, an engineer who moved to the US from India, was also killed in the attack.

Christian LaCour was killed in the shooting in Allen, Texas (Facebook)

Thatikonda was shopping with a friend at the mall when she was shot and killed by the gunman, a family representative told WFAA.

Aishwarya Thatikonda, 26, died in the Allen mall shooting

Her friend was also shot and injured in the shooting and is currently in stable condition in hospital.

Thatikonda’s family is planning to fly her body to India where she has family.

Aishwarya Thatikonda died in the Allen mall shooting (Family photo)

Kyu Song Cho, 37, Cindy Cho, 35, were out shopping with their two sons, William Cho, 6, and James Cho, 3 when the horrific mass shooting occurred, according to a GoFundMe set up for the family.

Kyu, Cindy and James all lost their lives during the shooting.

William is the only surviving member of the family.

Parents Cindy and Kyu Cho were killed along with their three-year-old son James in the Texas mall shooting (GoFundMe)

Elementary school sisters, Daniela Mendoza, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8, were also killed in the shooting.

Daniela, a fourth grader, and Sofia, a second grader, were out with their mother Ilda Mendoza when the shooting occurred.

Ilda remains in the hospital according to a GoFundMe page set up for the family.

Sisters Daniela, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8, were among those killed at the Allen mall massacre (GoFundMe)

A 32-year-old man named Elio Cumana-Rivas also died during the shooting.

Three survivors were undergoing surgery and remained in critical condition on Saturday night, while four others were in stable condition.

Medical City Healthcare spokesperson Janet St James, said their trauma facilities received eight patients between the age of 5 and 61 following the shooting.

What we know about the suspect

Mauricio Garcia, 33, was identified on Sunday as the gunman who killed seven innocent shoppers and a mall staff in Saturday’s horror attack.

Garcia drove to the mall with several weapons and opened fire as soon as he stepped out of his vehicle. An AR-15 rifle and a handgun were reportedly found on him and in his car.

Police have not released a possible motive, but investigators are looking into Garcia’s possible neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs.

Garcia was wearing black body armour and a patch on his chest that suggested he may have harboured extremist ideologies, law enforcement sources told The Washington Post.

The patch read RWDS, which stands for Right Wing Death Squad, a popular phrase among far-right extremists.

Police sources told NBC News that Garcia had posted and engaged with neo-Nazi and white supremacist content online.

People gather at the shopping mall after the mass shooting (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A social media profile on the Russian-based platform ok.ru that seems to have belonged to Garcia gives a glimpse into his thought process in the days before the attack.

Posts seen by The Independent show Garcia posted more than two dozen photos of the Texas mall and Google information that shows when the mall is at its busiest.

He also included photos showing SS and swastika tattoos, praise for Adolf Hitler, misogynistic screeds that echo incel (or involuntary celibate) ideas and forums, and complaints about the state of his mental health.

Garcia entered the US Army in June 2008 but was terminated three months into his initial training, Heather J Hagan, US Army Public Affairs Spokeswoman, said in a statement provided to The Independent.

“Mauricio Garcia entered the regular Army in June 2008; he was terminated three months later without completing initial entry training. He was not awarded a military occupational specialty. He had no deployments or awards. We do not provide characterisation of discharge for any soldier,” Ms Hagan said.

However, a US Army official indicated Garcia was terminated due to, “Other designated physical or mental conditions.”

After that, he became a security guard, most recently working for an aluminum supply company.

Through his work as a security guard, Garcia underwent firearms proficiency training as recently as 2018, according to the Texas Online Private Security database.

The online records show that he began training in 2015 before becoming a commissioned security officer in April 2016.

His licence expired in April 2020.

During that time, he is listed as working for three security companies: Ruiz Protective Service, Statewide Patrol and Verified Response Security & Investigations.

Police officer on the scene of the mall shooting

It is unclear why his security guard licence was suspended.

It is unclear if he had any connection to the mall where he carried out Saturday’s rampage.

Private security guards are vetted and are barred from gaining a license if they have convictions for crimes such as assault or sexual offenses, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

According to CBS News reporter JD Miles, Garcia was a security guard with no serious criminal record.

At the time of the shooting, Garcia had reportedly been living in a motel.

A girl runs as other shoppers leave with their hands up after a mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas (via REUTERS)

FBI agents raided a Dallas home where Garcia had been living with his parents for years, according to Fox News.

Officers were stationed outside the address on Sunday. The suspect’s family requested a translator to speak with authorities.

The Texas Bureau of Public Safety is leading the investigation into the suspect. The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Texas Rangers have also been deployed to assist local law enforcement agencies with the investigation.

What lawmakers are saying

Allen Mayor Ken Fulk said in a statement that the quick thinking of law enforcement had prevented greater loss of life.

“Their thorough training not to hesitate to move toward the threat likely saved more lives today.”

He said the community would “wrap our arms around” the victims and families impacted by the tragedy.

“Allen is a proud and safe city which makes today’s senseless act of violence even more shocking,” he said.

Law enforcement officers at a mall in Allen, Texas, where a gunman killed eight people on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who recently signed laws easing gun restrictions, called the mall shooting an “unspeakable tragedy.”

His comments were met with anger from gun safety advocates, and state and national lawmakers.

Roland Gutierrez, a Texas state senator, told MSNBC there was a “special place in hell” for lawmakers who do nothing to stem the unprecedented wave of gun violence.

“I don’t care about their thoughts and I don’t care about their prayers,” Mr Gutierrez said.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, called on Mr Abbott to tell Texans the truth about why mass shootings continue to occur.

“You need to explain that your policies failed and that you lied. Your policies are to blame.”

Survivors of the Allen mall mass shooting are escorted away from the scene by police officers. (via REUTERS)

President Joe Biden implored Congress to send him a bill banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and enacting universal background checks.

“Republican Members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug,” he said in a statement. “Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

He ordered American flags at the White House, public buildings and on military bases to fly at half mast as a mark of respect to the victims.

Senator Ted Cruz said he was praying for the victims and the wider Collin County community.

“Thank you to the incredible law enforcement who put a stop to the monster who committed this act of evil.”

The shooting came one week after five family members were killed by a neighbour in Cleveland after asking him to stop firing his weapon while a baby slept.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been nearly 200 mass shootings already in 2023.

FBI asks for video of shooting

The FBI is asking for anyone with video, audio or photographic evidence of Saturday’s shooting to share it with them.

The bureau has set up a portal where evidence can be submitted anonymously.

The FBI told CNN it “was present at two locations in Dallas,” and is helping state and local police by “devoting all available resources to include investigative, intelligence, digital forensics, and victim services personnel among others.”

Texas’ dark weekend

The mall shooting marked the start of a dark weekend for Texas.

In Brownsville, eight people were killed when an SUV slammed into a crowd of people outside a migrant shelter in the border city on Sunday afternoon.

Horrifying footage, taken from a security camera and shared by Texas Rep Henry Cuellar, shows a group of people waiting for a bus outside the city’s Ozanam Center. The SUV then rams into the victims.

Seven people died before an eighth victim succumbed to their injuries in hospital later that day. At least nine others were hospitalised.

Most of the victims were Venezuelan men who had spent the night at the shelter and were boarding a bus to return to downtown Brownsville.

Officials initially said that the incident appeared to be intentional and described the driver – whose identity remains unknown – as “very uncooperative”.

Police on the scene of the car crash in Brownsville

Also on Sunday, one person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting on a DART train in Dallas, Texas, on Sunday – just a 30-minute drive from the mall massacre.

Gunfire broke out on board a Green Line train near Hatcher Station when two people got into an argument on Sunday afternoon, accoding to authorities.

DART police said that officers were called to reports of a shooting on the northbound train at around 4.30pm.

Officers arrived on the scene to find two people – one of them a bystander – suffering from gunshot wounds.

They were both transported to local hospitals where one of the victims was pronounced dead. The condition of the second victim – the bystander – is unknown.

A third individual was also wounded in the shooting after being struck by shrapnel and was treated at the scene, police said.

Now, DART police are searching for the suspected shooter, whose identity is unknown.

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