Tuesday, 18 June

Texas mall shooting: Heavily armed gunman identified as 33 year old

World News
Gunfire heard as people flee Texas mall

Texas authorities have named a heavily armed gunman who killed eight people including children at a Dallas shopping mall as Mauricio Garcia, aged 33.

The attacker, a Dallas resident, was shot dead by a police officer who was attending a different call in the area.

President Biden described the rampage as "the latest act of gun violence to devastate our nation".

Investigators quoted by US media say Garcia may have had far-right links, as suggested by a clothing patch he wore.

 

He used an AR-15 style rifle and wore combat gear with - sources told CBS News - a patch bearing the letters RWDS, standing for "Right Wing Death Squad" - believed to be a neo-Nazi group.

Witnesses described scenes of panic and horror when the gunman got out of his car in a mall parking lot and began firing on shoppers.

 

Six people were pronounced dead at the scene in the north Dallas suburbs, while two died later in hospital. At least three injured victims remained in critical condition on Sunday.

Garcia also had a handgun, and more weapons were discovered in his car.

Multiple rounds of ammunition were found on Garcia who was wearing armoured ballistic gear, a police source told CBS, the BBC's US partner.

Investigators are combing through social media and online accounts looking for clues as to whether he may have had links to domestic violent extremists and like-minded individuals.

President Biden confirmed that children were among those killed, saying that "too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables" - and he called once again on his political opponents in the Republican party to support tougher gun controls.

Garcia was reportedly working as a security guard at the time of the shooting and did not have a serious criminal record.

 

Warning: You may find descriptions below upsetting

Footage seemed to show the suspect stepping out of his vehicle in the mall car park, and opening fire on people walking nearby without warning.

One woman working in the mall said the first she knew about the attack was a customer approaching her and warning: "You all need to close the doors."

"I was confused. Next thing you know, we hear gunshots... all you hear is like 50, 60 gunshots," she said.

"We kept our calm as best that we could, tried to keep our customers calm... we shut the door, everything is closed. Nobody can buy anything. We're all hiding in the back."

Another witness, Elaine Penicaro, said she was finishing her shopping trip when she heard "all this popping".

 

"So we kind of just all just stopped. But then a second later, like pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. And we saw sparks flying like it was right in front of us," she said. "So we just ran into the Converse store. They locked the door. We all hunkered down in the back - and that's where we stayed."

Speaking to CBS, Steven Spainhouer described how he rushed to the scene after getting a call from his son who reported shooting. He spoke of "unfathomable carnage".

He said at least three victims could not be saved even after he applied CPR. "The first girl I walked up to was crouched down covering her head in the bushes," he recalled. "So I felt for a pulse, pulled her head to the side, and she had no face."

He helped a boy who was under his mother's dead body. "When I rolled the mother over, he came out. I asked him if he was OK and he said, 'My mom is hurt, my mom is hurt'. So, rather than traumatise him any more, I pulled him around the corner sat him down." The boy was "covered from head to toe" in blood, Mr Spainhouer said.

President Biden has ordered the US flag to be flown at half-mast on federal buildings. His call for tighter gun controls, however, was seen differently by Texas' Republican governor Gregg Abbott.

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, he said his aim was to target the possession of weapons by criminals and deal with a rising mental health crisis, rather than consider wider bans.

"This is something that we have been grappling with over the past year, and there are some potential easy solutions such as passing laws, that we're working on right now, to get guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and to increase penalties for criminals to possess guns," he said.

"One thing that we can observe very easily and that is there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that's taking place in America. And what Texas is doing in a big-time way, we are working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it."

Source: BBC