Three children among eight shot dead at US mall – as one boy left orphaned

US

Three children are among the eight people killed in Saturday’s shooting at a Texas shopping centre – with one child orphaned after his parents and brother died.

Mauricio Garcia opened fire at Allen Premium Outlets, 25 miles (40 km) north of downtown Dallas, sending shoppers running for their lives.

Kyu Song Cho, 37, and Cindy Cho, 35, died in the carnage, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A GoFundMe page and local media said their three-year-old son, James, was also killed and that their other child, six-year-old William, survived and is now an orphan.

Sky’s US partner NBC News said two young sisters also died and that their mother was in a critical condition.

Daniela Mendoza, 11, and eight-year-old Sofia Mendoza were named in a letter from their school in Sachse, Texas, which called the girls “rays of sunshine”.

Security guard Christian LaCour, 23, and Aishwarya Thatikonda, a 26-year-old engineer from India, also died, said the public safety department.

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Mr LaCour’s grandmother described him as “such a beautiful soul”, according to a post on Facebook.

“He was such a beautiful soul, 20 years old with goals for his future. I was so proud of him and so glad I got to see him two weeks ago,” said Sandra Montgomery.

Officials said the eighth person killed was Elio Cumana-Rivas, 32, from Dallas.

Pic from left: Aishwarya Thatikonda and Christian LaCour
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Aishwarya Thatikonda (left) and Christian LaCour died in the shooting

Garcia, 33, was captured on video getting out of a vehicle in the car park wearing tactical gear and immediately opening fire with an AR-15 style assault rifle.

Shoppers ran for cover and some hid in shops which locked their doors to keep the gunman out.

Wetzel’s Pretzels worker Maxwell Gum said a panicked family ran in as gunfire sounded in the background.

He took them into a delivery corridor, hoping it would be a safe place to hide, but found chaos.

“There were probably like 300 people pouring in from all the different doors,” the teenager said, adding that people were “freaking out”.

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Worker helps people flee Texas shooting

Authorities are looking at social media accounts that suggest Garcia was a neo-Nazi sympathiser with an interest in white supremacy ideology.

He had a patch reading ‘RWDS’ on his chest when police shot him dead, an acronym that means Right Wing Death Squad.

A handgun was one of several firearms he had on him. Police said the officer that ended the massacre was in the area on an unrelated call.

It’s also emerged the killer was kicked out of the army after just three months in 2008. An army official, speaking anonymously, said it was due to mental health issues.

Garcia’s neighbours in Dallas said they believed he worked as a security guard but weren’t sure exactly where.

People pray at a makeshift memorial a the scene of the shooting. Pic: AP
Image:
People pray at a makeshift memorial a the scene of the shooting. Pic: AP

Seven people were also wounded in the attack.

Medical City Healthcare said on Monday that six of them were being treated at three of its hospitals.

Three were critical, two were in fair condition and one was in good condition at a children’s hospital. A seventh injured person was taken to a different hospital, police said.

The shooting comes just over a week after a man shot five people dead in Cleveland, Texas, after he was asked to stop firing his gun outside because a baby was asleep.

Twenty one people, including 19 children, also died last May in Texas when a gunman entered Robb Eementary School.

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 hands up as law enforcement responds 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 NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT
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Shoppers left the scene with their hands raised

The killings in Allen were the latest in at least 199 mass shootings in the US so far in 2023, according to non-profit group Gun Violence Archive.

Protesters called for stricter gun laws at the Texas Capitol on Monday and two Republicans backed a Democrat proposal to raise the age of buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

However, the bill has virtually no chance of becoming law in a state where millions support liberal weapons laws.

President Biden has renewed calls for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to enact universal background checks and end immunity for gun manufacturers.

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