Mauricio Garcia: Everything we know about the Texas mall gunman

Investigators are looking into the possible white supremacist and neo-Nazi beliefs of Mauricio Garcia, a security guard and former US Army trainee

Bevan Hurley,Rachel Sharp,Ariana Baio
Wednesday 10 May 2023 12:38 BST
Man who witnessed Allen outlet mall shooting describes the scene

A gunman clad in black body armour and armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle opened fire at a Texas mall on Saturday, killing eight people and injuring seven others.

The suspect was identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, a security guard and former US Army trainee.

Dashcam video circulating on social media appeared to show the gunman getting out of a grey sedan just outside the entrance of the Allen Premium Outlets, a sprawling centre on the outskirts of Dallas, and immediately opening fire on passersby in the carpark.

An Allen Police Department officer attending an unrelated call at the mall heard the gunfire and “neutralised” the suspect, police said.

What we know about the suspect

Mauricio Garcia, 33, was identified on Sunday as the gunman who killed eight innocent shoppers and mall staff members 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.

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

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.

A social media profile on the Russian-based platform 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 also trained with the US Army but was terminated in June 2008, three months into his training without completing entry training, US Army Public Affairs Spokeswoman Heather J Hagan told The Independent.

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 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

It is unclear why his security guard licence was suspended.

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. 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.

How the shooting unfolded

The gunman arrived at the mall just after 3.30pm local time on Saturday.

Video showed him exiting a grey sedan vehicle, dressed in black tactical gear and armed with an AR-15-style weapon before opening fire.

People gather across the street from a shopping center after a shooting Saturday, May 6, 2023, in Allen, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Hundreds of shoppers could be seen trying to flee the scene on aerial footage after the gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style gun. Bodies of the victims, including several young children, were covered by sheets.

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 the hospital where one succumbed to their injuries.

Three survivors were undergoing surgery and remained in critical condition on Saturday night, Mr Boyd said. Four others were in a stable condition.

The injured included children as young as three, a Dallas area hospital told CNN.

The victims

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

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

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

“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, a 26-year-old engineer who moved to the US from India, was also killed in the attack.

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 died in the Allen mall shooting (Family photo)

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.

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

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.

The Cho family was American nationals and citizens but of Korean descent, a Houston counsul for South Korea told NBC News.

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

Elementary school sisters, Daniela Mendoza, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8, were also killed in the shooting, the Wylie Independent School District confirmed to NBC News.

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.

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

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 (AP)

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, according 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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