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ALLEN — The gunman who opened fire on an outlet mall in this Dallas suburb Saturday, killing at least eight people, was a man in his early 30s who may have had white supremacist or neo-Nazi beliefs, people familiar with the investigation said Sunday.
Mauricio Garcia had multiple weapons on him and in his nearby car, said people familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.
Authorities have not released a motive, but a patch on his chest said “RWDS,” an acronym that stands for Right Wing Death Squad, according to people familiar with the investigation. The phrase is popular among right wing extremists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, they said. In addition to the weapons found on his body, investigators found another five guns inside his car nearby, these people said.
The shooter also injured at least seven people before a police officer who was at the mall on an unrelated call fatally shot him at about 3:30 p.m., Allen Police Chief Brian Harvey said Saturday. Authorities believe that the gunman acted alone and that there were no further threats, Harvey said.
Children were among the victims at Allen Premium Outlets, said U.S. Rep. Keith Self R-McKinney, who represents the area and said local authorities briefed him by phone after the shooting. A person wearing a security uniform was among the dead, according to several witnesses, but it was unclear whether the guard was on duty at the time.
The assailant used an AR-15-style weapon and was wearing tactical gear, President Biden said Sunday. He was living in a Dallas-area hotel at the time of the shooting, according to the people familiar with the investigation. Since the gunman is dead, a major focus of investigators is whether anyone knew what he planned to do or helped him do it.
Six victims were found dead at the scene, and nine people who had been injured were taken to hospitals by the local fire department, Allen Fire Chief Jon Boyd said Saturday. Two of them died at the hospital. At least three people remained in critical condition as of Sunday morning, police said.
Children were also among those injured. The victims being treated at Medical City Healthcare trauma facilities ranged from 5 to 61 years old, said Kathleen Beathard, a spokesperson for the hospital system.
Sherry Tutt was shopping at Victoria’s Secret on Saturday when she heard booming sounds. People started rushing onto the store, she said, and someone yelled, "‘They’re shooting!’”
Tutt and her fiancé hurried into a storage area with a few dozen other customers, hiding among boxes. She said panic spread when the group had trouble getting through to 911. One woman was crying.
After about an hour, police escorted the group out of the store, telling them that if they had kids, they should cover their eyes. Passing Fatburger, Tutt glimpsed two bodies — a sight she described as “something I will never unsee.”
The mass killing at the mall, which was crowded with shoppers on a Saturday afternoon, was the 22nd instance in the United States this year in which four or more people died by gunfire, according to a database of mass killings maintained by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. At this time last year, there had been eight.
At least 115 people across the country have died in mass killings in 2023. That count does not include the shooters. Last year, there were 36 mass killings by gunfire — a record since 2006.
At the Allen outlet mall, all the stores were closed Sunday, and police blocked entrances to the center of the complex. The parking lot in the center of the mall was packed with cars, which shoppers and employees had not been allowed to retrieve by mid-Sunday.
In a statement, Allen Premium Outlets said it was “outraged by the violence that continues to plague our country,” and thanked the police response.
“We are thankful for the police officer’s heroic actions and for the support of all the first responders,” the statement read.
Gov. Greg Abbott told “Fox News Sunday” that he was going to Allen on Sunday. The Dallas FBI office said it is assisting the investigation.
Biden ordered flags flown at half-staff through Thursday in recognition of the shooting victims. In a statement, he expressed condolences for the victims and called on Republican members of Congress to support a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other changes to gun laws.
“We need more action, faster to save lives,” he said. “Too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables.”
Aerial footage of the scene, about 25 miles northeast of Dallas, showed what appeared to be bodies underneath white sheets on the ground outside an H&M outlet. Other videos posted on social media showed people fleeing through the mall’s parking lot and corridors.
A video that could not immediately be verified by The Washington Post showed what appeared to be the gunman after he was fatally shot outside a burger restaurant, wearing tactical gear with several magazines of ammunition on his chest. What appeared to be an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle lay beside him.
Helen Bennett said she and her daughter were in the HanesBrands store when the manager saw someone in the parking lot exiting a car with a weapon. Everyone inside locked themselves in a storeroom, where they hoped fervently that bullets would not fly through the walls. A mother rocked her baby to keep the child from crying.
“As soon as we got in the backroom, we heard the shots — BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!,” Bennett said.
Deirdra Gordon, who was visiting from Arkansas, said she wept as police led her and others out of Banana Republic after the shooting. She and her husband, Bobby Gordon, said they saw several bodies, including a person in a security uniform and someone they thought was the shooter.
Nearby, a police officer helped a man with a leg wound exit a restaurant. The Gordons also saw bullet holes in store windows and the windshield of a gray sedan.
“It was just a beautiful Saturday,” Deirdra Gordon said. “It was just nice, and then all of a sudden, no one wanted to believe that that’s what was happening.”
Abbott told Fox that his priority in response to mass killings is to address mental health crises, rather than tighten gun regulations. (Research shows that stricter gun laws could lessen the severity of mass killings and may decrease overall gun violence.)
“We’ve got to find a way in this country where we can once again reunite Americans as Americans and come together in one big family and in that regard, find ways to reduce violence in our country,” Abbott told the TV network.
Last year, Texas had the most mass killings by gun of any state, with six. This year it has had three.
Two of the state’s mass killings in the past year have been high-profile: A gunman was arrested Tuesday after he killed five of his neighbors after they asked him to stop shooting his AR-15-style firearm near their home in Cleveland north of Houston. And last May, the killing of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., put the state at the center of the debate about gun control.
In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 4,613 firearms-related deaths in Texas. The state’s annual death toll from guns has increased steadily since 2014.
Led by Abbott, Texas has moved in recent years to loosen restrictions on firearms. In 2021, the state began allowing permitless carry so residents can carry handguns in public without a license. The state “does not specifically put restrictions on who can carry a long gun such as a rifle or shotgun,” according to a Texas government website.
Self, the congressman, rebuked criticism of officials offering “thoughts and prayers” after shootings while opposing gun control legislation, saying on CNN that “people want to make this political, but prayers are important.”
“The immediate aftermath is not the time for politics,” he told The Washington Post. “We have long ago traded faith in God, which means civic action based on that faith, for faith in government.”
Instead of limiting gun rights, Self said local governments need to be free to better defend public spaces from armed criminals. He called proposals to restrict gun rights, such as raising the age at which people can purchase AR-15-style weapons, “a knee-jerk reaction that does not stop criminals.”
Still, gun-control advocates called for a substantive response. Shannon Watts, founder of the advocacy group Moms Demand Action, lamented how such killings have become commonplace in the United States. She noted that she’d gone to school in the county where the latest incident took place.
“If you haven’t been impacted yet by gun violence, God bless you. But sadly, it’s coming — to your state, community, school,” Watts said.
Mushtaq Abdullah, 38, said he walked past multiple bodies while exiting the mall Saturday. He was still anxious the next day. His car remained at the mall, and he had heard authorities were checking vehicles left there with bomb-sniffing dogs.
This morning, when he took his family to brunch, he brought a gun for the first time.
Barrett, Stein, Iati, Moyer and Shammas reported from Washington, and Hennessy-Fiske from Houston. John D. Harden in Oakland, Alex Horton and Andrea Salcedo in Washington, and Bryan Pietsch and Niha Masih in Seoul contributed to this report.
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