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Texas police seek motive in mall shooting that killed eight

2023-05-08T00:07:56Z

U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Congress to pass gun control bills in the wake of yet another mass shooting that left nine people dead, including the gunman, at a Texas mall on Saturday. This report produced by Freddie Joyner.

Texas police on Sunday were investigating what motivated a 33-year-old gunman to kill at least eight people at a mall over the weekend, as President Joe Biden called for stricter gun laws.

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Sunday confirmed the identity of the assailant in Saturday’s shooting as Mauricio Garcia, a 33-year-old resident of Dallas, Texas.

Police said Garcia killed eight people and wounded at least seven on Saturday afternoon at Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, a northern suburb of Dallas, before he was killed by police.

The killings were the latest in at least 199 mass shootings that have occurred in the United States so far in 2023, according to the nonprofit group Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as any in which four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.

In a statement on Sunday, Biden renewed calls for the U.S. Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to enact universal background checks and end immunity for gun manufacturers. The president noted that Garcia had been wielding an AR-15 rifle and wearing tactical gear.

By Sunday evening, Texas law enforcement had not released any details about a possible motive, or the identities of the victims. A local ABC News affiliate reported that investigators had found several handguns, long guns and ammunition inside Garcia’s car at the scene of the shooting.

A family member identified one of the slain victims on social media as Christian LaCour, a security guard.

“We watched this sweet young boy turn into a very sweet gentleman,” Kellie Smith wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, identifying LaCour as the brother of her son-in-law. “Words can not even begin to describe the devastation that our family feels.”

Allen police said three wounded victims were hospitalized in critical condition on Sunday, and at least three were hospitalized in fair condition, including one at a children’s hospital. The assailant fatally shot eight people, including at least one child, before a police officer killed him, police said on Saturday.

A graphic 10-second video was circulating on Twitter on Saturday, showing several dead bodies slumped against a planter and white wall bearing the sign of retailer H&M.

At least one of the victims, lifeless and bloody, appears to be a young child. Reuters was able to verify the video was taken at the mall where the shooting took place.

In past shootings, social media sites have worked to take down links to such graphic images. An emailed request for comment to Twitter, which no longer has a communications team, returned an automated reply with a poop emoji.

The tragedy in Allen, which happened just over a week after another deadly shooting in the Texas town of Cleveland, reignited the heated debate over gun control in the United States.

The U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, a hot button issue for many Republicans who are backed by millions of dollars in donations from gun rights groups and manufacturers.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, called the shooting “devastating” in a Sunday interview on Fox News and said the way to prevent gun violence should involve addressing mental illness.

“There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that’s taking place in America,” he said. “We are working to address that anger and violence by going to his root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats stressed the need to pass stronger gun safety legislation to curtail gun violence.

On Sunday evening, Allen community members packed into Cottonwood Creek Church to hold a vigil for the victims.

“Our hearts were broken yesterday,” Allen Mayor Ken Fulk told the congregation. “We thank you for your patience and understanding during this ongoing investigation.”

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A girl runs as other shoppers leave with their hands up after police responded to a gunman who shot and killed eight people and wounded at least seven others at Allen Premium Outlets mall north of Dallas, in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 6, 2023 in a still image from video. REUTERS/Reuters TV

Muralist Roberto Marquez and his friend Israel Gil from Dallas erect a memorial to honor those who lost their lives when a gunman shot multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, Texas, U.S. Robert says, ‘This is like a refuge for the people who lost loved ones, a place where they can come and express all their emotions”. He believes that the memorial is a priority for the difficult situation, people need a place to gather. May 7, 2023. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

Officers with the Allen Police Department block an entrance of the mall the day after a gunman shot multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 7, 2023. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

Mother, Sara Tabatabaei, daughter Lenna Maleki and aunt Mahboubeh Gargvand, help erect a memorial to honor those who lost their lives on Saturday when a gunman shot multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall, in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 7, 2023. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

Mahboubeh Gargvand and Sara Tabatabaei place flowers as Lenna Maleki helps muralist Roberto Marquez, from Dallas, erect a memorial to honor those who lost their lives on Saturday when a gunman shot multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall, in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 7, 2023. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

Police respond to a shooting in the Dallas area’s Allen Premium Outlets, which authorities said has left multiple people injured in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 6, 2023 in a still image from video. ABC Affiliate WFAA via REUTERS

Gordon Jones from the Dallas Fort Worth area holds a sign supporting gun control on a busy intersection by the mall the day after a gunman shot multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, Texas, U.S. Gordon says, “supporting gun control legislation lessen theses kind of events”. May 7, 2023. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

Officers with the Allen Police Department man the mobile command post the day after a gunman shot multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 7, 2023. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

Shoppers leave with their hands up after police responded to a gunman who shot and killed eight people and wounded at least seven others at Allen Premium Outlets mall north of Dallas, in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 6, 2023 in a still image from video. REUTERS/Reuters TV