Texas mall shooter identified as authorities probe possible extremist ties

·4 min read
Texas mall shooter identified as authorities probe possible extremist ties

Investigators are looking into whether the gunman who killed eight people and wounded seven others at an outlet mall in Texas on Saturday was motivated by domestic violent extremist ideals, according to a law enforcement source. The gunman has been identified as Mauricio Garcia, 33, the Texas Department of public safety confirmed Sunday.

Garcia opened fire Saturday at Allen Premium Outlets in Allen, a suburb in the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area, before being shot and killed by a police officer. The gunman is from Dallas, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

A source told CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that the gunman was heavily armed and appeared to be on a mission.

The gunman used an assault-style weapon and had multiple rounds of ammunition on his person and was wearing armored ballistic gear, the source said. The investigators are currently combing through the suspect's social media and online accounts looking for clues to see whether he may have had links to violent extremists and like-minded individuals. Investigators are also looking at possible affiliations he may have had with prison gangs and cartel members.

Two sources also confirmed to CBS News that the shooter had a patch on his clothing with the letters "RWDS," which stands for "Right Wing Death Squad" —  believed to be a right-wing neo-Nazi group.

Garcia was living in a motel and working as a security guard at the time of the shooting, sources told CBS Texas. He did not have a serious criminal record.

The U.S. Army confirmed that Garcia entered the service in 2008 but was terminated three months later without completing basic training. He was separated under a provision citing physical or mental conditions.

Authorities raided a house late Saturday night in Dallas that belonged to the gunman's parents, sources told CBS Texas. Authorities also searched the Extended Stay motel where he had been living, according to CBS Texas.

The massacre in Allen came in the wake of a spate of mass shootings, in Texas and across the country, in the last few months alone. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who one day earlier appeared at a prayer vigil where protesters held signs calling for reforms to gun laws, said at a news conference Monday morning that he will work with authorities and leaders in the area "to get to the bottom of what's going on."

"One thing I know is that the people in Allen, but especially the families [of the shooting victims], they want to know right now why this happened, how it happened. And the investigators were unable to provide specifics at that time," Abbott told reporters.

"I believe in the coming days, the public will be much better informed about why and how this happened," he added. "And that will inform us as Texas leaders about next steps to take to try and prevent crimes like this from taking place in the future."

In a Saturday night news conference, Allen Fire Chief Jonathan Boyd told reporters that six victims were pronounced dead at the scene, and another nine were rushed by paramedics to local hospitals. Two of those who were transported to the hospital later died, Boyd said. 

Flowers and a stuffed animal are left at the scene the day after a shooting at Allen Premium Outlets on May 7, 2023 in Allen, Texas.  / Credit: Stewart  F. House / Getty Images
Flowers and a stuffed animal are left at the scene the day after a shooting at Allen Premium Outlets on May 7, 2023 in Allen, Texas. / Credit: Stewart F. House / Getty Images

Janet St. James, a spokesperson for Medical City Healthcare, told CBS News on Saturday that its trauma facilities had received at least eight shooting victims who ranged in age from 5 to 61 years old. In an update on Sunday, Medical City Healthcare said that three patients are in critical condition and three in fair condition.

One of the victims was Christian LaCour, 20, who was on duty as a security guard at the outlet mall when he was killed.

The Allen Police Department confirmed none of the dead or injured are of Mexican nationality, the Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas said, adding, "We deeply regret this tragic shooting that mourns North Texas and reiterate our condolences to the families of the victims."

President Biden on Sunday ordered all flags at the White House and at public buildings and grounds to be flown at half-staff "as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence."

When presented with a poll that showed over 80% of respondents were in favor of gun reforms, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Fox News on Sunday that the state was working to address the "root cause" of the anger and violence that the country is facing.

"People want a quick solution, the long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue," Abbott said.

The Fox News poll asked respondents about reforms such as mandatory background checks, a legal purchasing age of 21, mental health requirements, and avenues to report people who are seen as dangers to themselves.

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