By Michael Williams, Maggie Prosser, Jamie Landers, Kyle Arnold, María Ramos Pacheco, Alexandra Skores and Imelda García
ALLEN — Two days since a gunman opened fire outside the Allen Premium Outlets, killing eight people and wounding seven others, authorities offered up few details about the nation’s second-deadliest mass shooting this year.
Monday morning, during a press conference on border security, Gov. Greg Abbott said it’s still unclear why the shooter did what he did, but he noted that officials will have more in coming days.
“That will inform us as Texas leaders about next steps to take to try and prevent these crimes,” Abbott said.
Abbott was among state leaders — including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton and McKinney state Sen. Angela Paxton — who attended a vigil Sunday evening at an Allen-area church. They did not speak. Local politicians gave brief remarks.
“Our hearts were broken yesterday and we are here to offer you our full support,” Allen Mayor Ken Fulk told the crowd at Cottonwood Creek Church.
Police had not publicly identified any of the victims late Sunday, and no news conferences were scheduled. At two news conferences held Saturday — opportunities for media to ask for details — officials declined to answer questions.
In the aftermath of the rampage, the community searched for meaning. Some of the more than 1,000 shoppers whose belongings were left behind in the carnage tried to retrieve them. Church services were altered to memorialize the victims, one of whom was identified by family as 20-year-old Christian LaCour, “a sweet caring young man,” a relative told The Dallas Morning News.
The alleged gunman was identified as a 33-year-old man. Investigators continue to work to determine why the shooter opened fire on innocents.
President Joe Biden said in a statement children were among those killed. Biden ordered flags across the country to be flown at half-staff through Thursday.
Medical City Healthcare said Saturday it had received eight victims ages 5 to 61. Three patients listed in critical condition were still being treated at Medical City McKinney on Sunday, while a fourth was listed in “fair condition.” Two others were listed in fair condition with one being treated at Medical City Plano and the other at Medical City Children’s Hospital.
It was unclear what hospital the final patient was being treated at or what their condition was Sunday evening.
Allen ISD spokesperson David Hicks said the school district had not received any information about the identities of the victims. In an email, Hicks said the district is in “close contact” with law enforcement and hoping to receive more information. Counselors will be at schools Monday, according to a message sent to Allen ISD parents and employees.
Kelly Gartner Baxley and her daughter were with a small group of protesters outside the vigil. Baxley, with the Liberal Women’s Action of Collin County, said she came to ask her elected officials for action. She held a sign reading, “Start with thought and prayers, follow with action.”
“We want action,” she said. “We are tired of nothing ever changing. Everyone says thoughts and prayers, but nothing changes. Our lawmakers need to take action.”
Plano mom Kat Vargas, 31, whose husband was a first responder to the mass killing Saturday, said the politicians’ presence was offensive.
“We’re beyond angry. We’re past that point,” said Vargas, who is a member of Moms Demand Action.
“Mother’s Day is next week, and all over the state, there are moms just like me, who are having conversations about who covers which child and which kids can run,” she said. “That’s the reality of Greg Abbott’s Texas. That’s the reality.”
U.S. Rep. Keith Self, who represents Allen, faced criticism after denouncing people who say more than prayer is needed to combat gun violence on CNN, while Abbott rejected the need for gun control and instead emphasized mental health funding on Fox News Sunday.
“We are working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it,” Abbott said in the interview. “People want a quick solution. The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue.”
After a slew of media reports identifying the gunman, officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed the lone shooter was 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia. The shooter, who was fatally shot by a police officer, was one of seven people who died at the scene.
Authorities executed search warrants late Saturday at two locations, including a Dallas hotel, where the shooter was purportedly staying, law enforcement officials told The News.
Louis Moore, a neighbor of the Garcia family’s Piper Lane home in northeast Dallas, said he has lived there for more than 13 years and that family has always been there, but he hardly spoke with them.
“Like all of us, that family tried to give a good life to their children and surely they didn’t realize when this boy lost his mental sanity and this happened is also a tragedy for them,” he said. “I’m so sorry that they lost a son as well.”
Tisha Williams, whose family has lived on Piper Lane for more than 60 years, also said the family was cordial.
“I would see the boy all the time, and he was very friendly, he would say hello warmly, but we never had a close relationship with them,” Williams said.
Residents of the home were inside and visitors arrived at times, but none agreed to speak to The News.
Garcia has no history of incarceration within the state prison system, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Director of Communications Amanda Hernandez confirmed. He had an active misdemeanor warrant for drug paraphernalia in Garland from 2020, according to police records.
Federal authorities investigating the shooter’s motives are looking into whether he was interested in white supremacist ideology, according to The Associated Press. A source who spoke to the AP said investigators are looking through social media accounts they think are associated with him.
The source, who spoke to the outlet on the condition of anonymity, said the gunman had a patch on his chest that read “RWDS,” which stands for “Right Wing Death Squad” — a popular phrase among far-right extremist groups.
Saturday’s shooting at Allen Premium Outlets was the 22nd mass murder — four or more people killed in a single incident — in the United States this year, according to data compiled by USA Today, The Associated Press and Northeastern University.
It was one of 199 mass shootings this year tracked by the Gun Violence Archive, which defines such incidents as four or more people killed or injured, not including the shooter.
Photos: Vigil honors victims of Allen mall mass shooting
‘I’m kind of traumatized’
Mourners gathered at the mall Sunday to reflect and pay tribute to the victims. Hannah Dunegan, 19, described the shooting as something “you think is never going to happen in your hometown.”
University of Texas at Dallas graduate student Akhilesh Nalam, 22, was walking the concourse Saturday when he heard shots fired. He ducked into Aeropostale, and he and other customers huddled in the back of the store while employees locked doors, only unlocking for pregnant women and children looking for shelter.
Nalam was there for nearly 3½ hours and was forced to leave his bags behind when police finally evacuated the mall. He came back Sunday to try to collect his belongings but was stopped by police, who were telling hundreds of people that it may be Tuesday before they can get their cars and personal belongings. Later Sunday, arrangements were made for people to get their cars.
“I’m kinda traumatized to be honest,” Nalam said. “I had trouble sleeping yesterday.”
The mall will remain closed Monday.
Videos show shooting, devastation
A video circulating on social media showed the moment when the gunman, driving a gray Dodge Charger, stopped in the middle of a parking row at the outlet mall, flung his door open and began shooting at shoppers on the sidewalk outside.
In the video, which appears to have been shot from the in-car camera of a nearby vehicle, the gunman shows no hesitation as he aims a rifle toward shoppers and opens fire outside the H&M. At least two dozen gunshots can be heard in an initial volley as other vehicles flee the parking lot. The gunman advances toward the sidewalk, continuing to shoot.
Another video showed the crushing destruction of that first volley, as shoppers, including a child, lay injured or dead outside the clothing store.
In helicopter footage taken later, which appears to show the same location, four bodies are covered by white sheets.
Another video, taken from inside a Fatburger restaurant at the mall, shows the body of the gunman. A pair of glasses and a rifle with an extended magazine lay nearby.
Before police and other emergency personnel arrived, civilians were some of the first responders to render aid to the victims.
In an interview with KTVT-TV (Channel 11), Steven Spainhouer said he rushed to the H&M after his son, who works in the clothing store, called him to report the shooting.
Spainhouer said he walked over to two children, one — who survived — under the dead body of his mother.
“He was covered from head to toe like somebody had poured blood on him,” he said.
“No one can see what they saw today and not be affected by it,” Spainhouer told the channel Saturday. “It’s not a situation I would wish upon anybody.”
‘Very sad moment’
Ishrat Ansari, 50, a mother of three daughters between 16 and 24, frequently shops at the mall for clothes.
“It’s a very sad moment for us,” Ansari said.
Ansari and her husband — who was at the outlets just hours before the shooting — visited Sunday morning, just a few hundred yards from where they live.
“It’s a very popular mall,” Ansari said. “It’s always packed.”
A makeshift memorial formed at a southern entrance to the mall. Six-foot-tall crosses, representing the victims, were nailed into a flower bed near the entrance.
Kristen and Rafael Alvarez, along with their three children, brought flowers.
“We were just here a couple of weeks ago,” Kristen Alvarez said.
Allen churches addressed members with prayer services and counseling. Some of the town’s pastors and priests worked late into Saturday night immediately following the shooting to deliver remarks to grieving community members.
Dustin Bates, lead pastor at Church Eleven32, said church leaders are trying to give comfort and encouragement.
“We’ve told our community that there’s going to be times to figure out what happened or how it happened, explain all those things,” Bates said. “But right now, we’ve got neighbors — we’ve got people in our church — that have been devastated, heartbroken.”
Staff writers Hojun Choi, Lauren McGaughy, Allie Morris, Lana Ferguson, Kelli Smith, Aarón Torres and Marcela Rodrigues contributed to this report.