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Nazi tattoos, racist vitriol and shooting plans: Texas mall gunman Mauricio Garcia’s white supremacist social media footprint

Law enforcement officials are investigating the 33-year-old gunman’s apparent profile

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 10 May 2023 12:27 BST
People escape out of back door of Burger restaurant during Texas mall shooting

A social media profile that appears to belong to a gunman who killed eight people in a busy Dallas-area shopping mall on 6 May includes dozens of Nazi-related images and hate-filled rants against women and racial minorities.

The profile on the Russian-based platform ok.ru also includes more than two dozen photos of the Texas mall and surrounding areas, including Google location information that shows when the mall is at its busiest. It was posted in the days leading up to the attack.

Posts reviewed by The Independent and extremism researchers also include 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.

The profile appears to belong to Mauricio Garcia, the 33-year-old who was fatally shot by police after he fired an AR-style rifle at the outlet mall, killing eight and injuring seven others.

Law enforcement officials have not publicly disclosed or suggested a motive behind the mass shooting. Hank Sibley, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told reporters on 9 May that Garcia had a “neo-Nazi ideation”.

A federal law enforcement bulletin notes that the FBI’s “review and triage of the subject’s social media accounts revealed hundreds of postings and images to include writings with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist rhetoric, including neo-Nazi materials and material espousing the supremacy of the white race.”

The profile did not have any followers or appear to have any engagement from other users. It is likely difficult for US authorities to remove Garcia’s content from the platform, known as Odnoklassniki, a popular social media platform in Russia.

One image on the ok.ru profile includes a picture of his hand which appears to be the same tattoo that belonged to the gunman. Another photo of a receipt from January has the name “Mauricio” and a phone number that appears to match one that belongs to Garcia.

Photos on the profile also include dumped-out boxes of ammunition, posted at the same time with images outside the mall. The profile had appeared to telegraph preparations for violence for years; a photo of a written diary entry in a spiral-bound notebook from 2019 details a dream about racist violence.

In what appears to be a final post, the user claims that a psychologist would not be able to “fix” him. A link to a YouTube video posted by the same person on the day of the shooting shows Garcia removing a Scream mask and asking, “Not quite what you were expecting, huh?”

During the attack, he was reportedly wearing a patch reading “RWDS,” an acronym for “Right Wing Death Squad” – a flak jacket with the patch appears on the ok.ru profile.

This catchphrase has emerged in recent years as both a far-right brand and rallying cry popular with the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group. Its also often associated with memes and T-shirts praising Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and his extrajudicial killing of political enemies by throwing them from helicopters.

“Dissidents, particularly leftists, socialists, and supporters of the previous government, were dropped to their death from helicopters by Pinochet’s regime,” West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center notes in its research of the “Right Wing Death Squad” meme. “Today, the reference often features an image of a helicopter and is often accompanied by slogans such as ‘Right Wing Death Squad,’ ‘Free Helicopter Rides,’ and other iterations.”

The phrases are emblazoned on T-shirts and stickers; several members of the Proud Boys who were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their actions surrounding the January 6 attack have been photographed with similar patches or T-shirts reading “Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong.”

Jeremy Bertino, center left, is pictured with an “RWDS” patch in 2020. (EPA)
Members of the Proud Boys are photographed with “RWDS” on their hats in 2020. (AP)

“RWDS” has appeared at neo-Nazi gatherings, far-right protests and other events attracting Proud Boys members and other fascist groups within the years after the 2016 election.

The phrase was scrawled on shields during the so-called “Unite the Right” rally white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. At the time, Facebook removed several racist groups from the platform, including one called “Right Wing Death Squad”.

In 2019, federal investigators uncovered an alleged plot involving an active-duty US Marine to kill minorities, drug users and members of the Democratic National Committee in a group chat called “Right Wing Death Squad”.

The profile also includes references to other mainstream far-right influencers, including podcaster Tim Pool, whose platforms have included appearances from the Proud Boys and Alex Jones, among others, and Libs of Tik Tok, which promotes anti-LGBT+ content.

Allen is among one of the most diverse suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, home to roughly 105,000 people.

Many of the posts allegedly written by Garcia also discuss or reference his Hispanic heritage, underscoring the ways in which white supremacism, fascism and violent extremist ideologies often escape rigid racial or ethnic lines.

Virulent antisemite and white nationalist Nick Fuentes has a half-Mexican father, and Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys who was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his role in the Capitol attack, is Afro-Cuban.

Nazi propaganda website The Daily Stormer also began publishing in Spanish in 2017 in an effort to seize on Latin American audiences. The ok.ru profile mentions the website and its founder Andrew Anglin.

“I think I even read in the news Hispanics could be the new white supremist [sic],” one of the ok.ru post reads. “Just the other day this black dude told me the line is blurring. He can’t tell the difference anymore. Someone would look white but their [sic] actually Hispanic.”

In photographs of his spiral-bound diary entries, he also said he wore an “It’s OK to be White” shirt and that he is Hispanic whether he “likes it or not.”

A Dallas-area home connected to Mauricio Garcia, who killed eight people at a mall in Allen, Texas on 6 May. (AP)

Garcia was removed from the US Army in 2008 due to mental health concerns, according to military officials.

He joined the Army in June 2008 and was removed three months later before completing basic training, Army spokeswoman Heather Hagan said in a statement. “He was not awarded a military occupational specialty. He had no deployments or awards. We do not provide characterization of discharge for any soldier,” she added.

Garcia was heavily armed and armoured when he began firing indiscriminately with an AR-style rifle at the Allen Premium Outlets shopping centre on 6 May.

Authorities discovered eight firearms at the scene, including three on his person and five in his car. All were legally purchased.

Among the eight victims are a three-year-old boy, an eight-year-old girl and an 11-year-old girl, according to the Allen Police Department.

An Allen police officer who was already at the scene for an unrelated incident fatally shot him.

There have been more than 200 mass shootings, including 21 mass murders, so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

White supremacists are behind the highest number of extremism-related murders in most years, according to an analysis from the Anti-Defamation League. Last year, 21 of 25 extremism-linked murders were committed by white supremacists – but “all the extremist-related murders in 2022 were committed by right-wing extremists of various kinds,” the report found.

This was first published on 8 May and has been updated with developments

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