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Authorities identify the shooter who opened fire at a Texas outlet mall on Saturday

A law enforcement officer walks as people are evacuated from a shopping center where a shooting occurred Saturday, May 6, 2023, in Allen, Texas.
LM Otero
/
AP
A law enforcement officer walks as people are evacuated from a shopping center where a shooting occurred Saturday, May 6, 2023, in Allen, Texas.

Updated May 7, 2023 at 4:06 PM ET

Authorities have identified the gunman who opened fire Saturday afternoon at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, killing eight people and wounding seven others.

The attacker was 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Garcia was killed by police.

Authorities have been searching a nearby motel where Garcia was staying as well as a Dallas-area home connected to him, they said.

Police found an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun at the scene after Garcia was killed, they added, according to the AP.

Local and state authorities have given scant details about the victims, the suspect or how the Saturday afternoon shooting unfolded.

In a statement on the attack earlier on Sunday, President Biden said the shooter had used "an AR-15 style assault weapon" and wore "tactical gear," and that children were among the fatalities. Biden ordered flags on federal buildings lowered to half-staff to honor the victims.

Saturday's attack was the second-deadliest mass shooting of 2023, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. The only attack to eclipse it was the January shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., that left 11 people dead.

Witnesses and video footage on social media have begun to paint a picture of the horror that transpired at the shopping center in Allen, a city of more than 100,000 people located 25 miles north of downtown Dallas.

Steven Spainhouer, whose son worked at the H&M store at the scene of the shooting, told CBS News Texas that he rushed to help the wounded after his son called to say there had been an attack.

"The first girl I walked up to was crouched down covering her head in the bushes, so I felt for a pulse, pulled her head to the side and she had no face," he told the outlet.

Spainhouer said he also found a boy covered in blood who had survived the shooting while being protected by his mother, who was killed.

"No one can see what we saw today and not be affected by it," Spainhouer added. "It's not a situation I would wish upon anybody, it's just unfathomable to see carnage."

Gunfire erupted at the suburban mall on Saturday afternoon

According to officials, an Allen Police Department officer on an unrelated call heard gunfire at 3:36 p.m. on Saturday.

"He heard gunshots, went to the gunshots, engaged the suspect and neutralized the suspect," Allen Police Chief Brian Harvey said at a news conference Saturday.

Seven people died at the scene, including the shooter, while two victims died at the hospital.

Seven others were injured in the attack and taken to nearby hospitals, officials said. As of Sunday morning, Medical City McKinney was treating four patients — one in fair condition and three in critical condition. One person was transferred to Medical City Plano, a Level I Trauma Center, and is in fair condition. Another went to Medical City Children's Hospital and is in fair condition. Yet another victim was treated at a different hospital nearby.

Medical City Healthcare, a Dallas-area hospital system, said injured victims ranged in age from 5 to 61.

The eruption of gunfire left some weekend shoppers trapped in the mall as the attack unfolded, including Collin Palakiko, who told KERA's Katherine Hobbs that he sheltered in a store during the shooting.

"We all just kind of knew what to do, because this happens so often," Palakiko said.

As he was led to safety by police after the attack, Palakiko said he saw the bloodied bodies of victims.

Law enforcement officials have not identified the suspect, said what weapon or weapons were used or disclosed any motive for the shooting.

Dashcam video from another driver in the outlet mall parking lot shared on social media shows the shooter exiting a gray car from the driver's side and beginning to open fire on passing shoppers. NPR has not independently verified the video.

Authorities announced on Sunday that the Texas Department of Public Safety had taken over the investigation of the shooting.

The Allen Police Department and the FBI were working with Allen Premium Outlets on a plan to help shoppers retrieve any vehicles that were left at the scene.

A community prayer service was planned for Sunday evening at Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen.

It's the latest in a string of mass shootings across the country — and in Texas

There have been 199 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The group defines a mass shooting as any event in which at least four people are shot.

One incident just over a week ago, which also occurred in Texas, saw a man allegedly open fire in his neighbors' home and kill five people after he was asked to stop shooting a gun in his front yard because it was frightening a baby who lived next door.

Authorities captured the suspect, 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa, on Tuesday.

It's still unclear whether the weapon or weapons used in Saturday's attack were purchased legally.

Federally licensed firearms dealers in Texas must conduct a background check on potential buyers, but private sellers in the state do not have to conduct background checks before sales.

Texas law was amended in 2021 to allow qualified people to carry handguns in public without a license or training. People could previously carry rifles and shotguns in public without a license.

Some people are restricted from possessing guns in Texas, including people with certain felony or misdemeanor convictions as well as those under an active protective order.

Officials are expressing grief over the massacre

On Saturday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott offered the full backing of the state government in the aftermath of the incident and expressed support for the victims.

"Our hearts are with the people of Allen, Texas tonight during this unspeakable tragedy," Abbott said in a statement.

Allen Premium Outlets, part of the Simon Property Group that owns outdoor malls and other commercial properties, said the company's thoughts and prayers were with the victims and others impacted by the shooting.

"We are horrified by the senseless tragedy at Allen Premium Outlets and are outraged by the violence that continues to plague our country," the company said in a statement posted to its website.

Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for the victims and their families and thanked first responders.

The president again called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as other gun safety measures, such as universal background checks and ending immunity for gun manufacturers.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.