‘We share in your grief’: At vigil for Allen victims, pews filled with anguish, anger
A long line of cars waiting to get into the prayer vigil for the victims of the Allen Premium Outlets mall shooting stretched along the road outside Cottonwood Creek Church.
About a dozen protesters stood to the left of the parking lot entrance waving brightly colored homemade signs. “This voter opposes gun violence,” one sign read.
“When will it end?” another sign said.
Inside the packed auditorium, Allen Mayor Ken Fulk addressed the crowd who gathered here Sunday evening, the day after eight people including children were shot dead.
“We are praying for you, and we share in your grief,” Fulk said.
The mayor shared his belief that the community would unite and come through the tragedy stronger. Authorities hadn’t released the ages and names of the victims as of Sunday, but one victim was identified as Christian LaCour, a 20-year-old security guard from Farmersville who died while on duty at the mall.
Gov. Greg Abbott attended the prayer vigil but did not speak publicly. On Sunday morning, the governor called the massacre “devastating.”
“Texans are hurting today,” Abbott told FOX News. “The people who are hurting the most, obviously, are the families of the victims. Families who lost a loved one. Families who have a loved one who is injured.”
Stephanie Alford, a teacher at Allen High School, attended the vigil with her husband. She told the Star-Telegram that she thinks about mass shootings because of her profession but draws strength from her relationship with God.
“I don’t live in fear,” she said.
Frisco resident Stacie Valley said she lives only 10 minutes away from the mall and has friends who’ve worked there.
“When you know that you’ve walked in front of those stores, the only thing you can think of is, that could have been me or one of my friends,” she said.
Robyne Kintz, former regional vice president of marketing for Simon Property Group, the owners of Allen Premium Outlets, said she teared up when she heard the news.
“It really hit home to me and it just it crushed me when knowing what the store employees had to go through,” Kintz told the Star-Telegram.
Kintz worked at the mall for 10 years before leaving her position in 2016. She said she loved it when the mall was full on weekends and families were enjoying themselves.
“Families were always there -- it was great,” she said. “And it was exactly that same way (Saturday). And to think that some Satan gets out of the car with a gun and shoots a family walking along the sidewalk.”
A GoFundMe page called “How to Help: Allen, Texas Mall Shooting” has been established for people who want to help victims.
Valley, the Frisco resident, said the country is in the middle of an epidemic and more needs to be done to address mental health issues.
“There’s two things,” she said. “We need new legislation passed for new gun control laws, but the second thing is ... the people that are pulling the trigger. Because you can have the gun sitting there all day, but it’s the mindset of the person that picks it up.”
Keller resident Mary Ann Foley was one of the protesters still standing near the parking lot when the vigil ended.
Foley said she was “livid” when she heard about the shooting.
“Why are we doing nothing?” she asked.
Foley said she’s not against responsible people owning guns, but she is against the easy access that Texans have to firearms, especially assault rifles, and she’s tired of hearing people talk about thoughts and prayers after each mass shooting.
“I would say you have my thoughts and prayers but you’re gonna have my action,” she said. “They need action. Somebody needs to help.”