Gunman identified in Texas mall massacre
(Update 1: Adds info about gunman)
Washington, May 7 (EFE).- The gunman who killed eight people and wounded seven others at an Allen, Texas, open-air mall on the weekend has been identified as Mauricio Garcia, 33, CNN reported on Sunday based on police reports.
In addition to the AR-15 assault rifle found next to his body after police killed him, Garcia also had at least one other pistol with him and multiple other weapons in the automobile he drove to the site where he opened fire.
The cable news network confirmed that on Saturday night police entered a home with an address coinciding with that of Garcia’s parents, authorities having arrived there about an hour after the mass shooting and blocking the street for several hours.
Basing its reporting on police sources, The Wall Street Journal said Sunday that authorities are investigating Garcia’s potential links with white supremacist ideology.
Found at the crime scene were more than 100 empty cartridges and authorities also searched a hotel where Garcia is believed to have been staying, finding more ammunition there.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is heading the investigation into the incident and has asked witnesses who have video or other recorded evidence of the shooting to provide authorities with that information.
Witnesses said that chaos, panic and confusion prevailed at the open-air mall when Garcia opened fired with the AR-15, killing at least eight people before being shot dead by police responding by chance to another emergency in the area.
“There are many … people in our community tonight who are hurting, whose lives have been shattered and who need and deserve our collective prayers,” said one of Texas’s Republican congressmen, Jeff Leach, said Saturday night.
Among the dead was a 5-year-old boy, and seven more were wounded to varying degrees, with the oldest victim being 61.
It is not yet known how many minutes the man spent carrying out the massacre at Allen Premium Outlets, which was jammed with shoppers on Saturday afternoon when he opened fire.
What is known, however, is that hundreds of people were on hand browsing or making purchases when the shooting erupted. Many of them took shelter anywhere they could and were only evacuated hours later with raised hands from the site by police after they secured the scene.
Although the attacker died shortly after he began shooting, the panic he unleashed lasted for hours at the mall and even led to rumors that there might be another shooter in the area, although that idea was ultimately disproved.
According to Allen Police Chief Brian Harvey, the shooter was gunned down by a local police officer who heard the gunfire and was at the scene to deal with an unrelated incident.
“He heard gunshots, went to the gunshots, engaged the suspect, and neutralized the suspect,” Harvey said of the police officer who killed the shooter, adding that police believe that the attacker acted alone.
Media outlets including CNN on Sunday published photos of the alleged shooter after he was killed wearing a bulletproof vest, in possession of ammunition clips. Beside his body can be seen an AR-15 assault rifle, the most popular such military-style weapon.
According to a White House official, President Joe Biden was receiving timely updates about the incident, was closely monitoring the situation and is in contact with law enforcement and local officials to provide support.
Biden on Sunday declared a five days of national mourning after the massacre, saying that he was making the declaration “as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated” and – in a communique – ordered that the US flag be flown at half-staff at the White House and all public buildings and sites, military bases, embassies and other US government facilities abroad.
“Such an attack is too shocking to be so familiar,” Biden’s statement read. “And yet, American communities have suffered roughly 200 mass shootings already this year, according to leading counts. More than 14,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives, credible estimates show.”
“The leading cause of death for American kids is gun violence,” he noted.