Mall shooting, SUV crash kill 16 in deadly Texas weekend. Here's everything we know.
A mass shooting at a Dallas-area mall left nine people, including the gunman, dead while eight died in Brownsville when an SUV slammed into a group of people waiting for a bus outside a migrant shelter.
It was a deadly weekend in Texas.
On Saturday, a 33-year-old gunman opened fire at a Dallas-area mall, killing eight people and wounding seven others before he was fatally shot by police. Less than 24 hours later, the 34-year-old driver of an SUV ran a red light and slammed into a crowd of migrants in the border city of Brownsville, killing eight people waiting for a bus outside a shelter
Here’s everything we know so far about the two tragedies, culled from original reporting and Yahoo News’ partner network, including the Associated Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and others.
How the shooting unfolded
According to police, the shooting began around 3:30 p.m. at Allen Premium Outlets in Allen, Texas, about 25 miles north of Dallas, when a man armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and wearing tactical gear opened fire, killing eight people and wounding seven others before he was fatally shot by a police officer who happened to be at the mall.
The Texas Department of Public Safety later identified the gunman as Mauricio Garcia, who lived in the Dallas area. According to NBC News, police recovered an additional handgun at the scene, and more weapons and ammunition were found in his car.
Investigators were also searching a Dallas home connected to the suspect, the Associated Press reported, and a motel near an interstate where he had been staying.
Investigators eye ‘white supremacist ideology’
Federal officials are reportedly looking into whether the shooter had expressed an interest in white supremacist ideology and neo-Nazi views as they look for a motive for the attack.
Both the AP and NBC News reported that the suspect had a patch on his chest that read “RWDS,” an acronym for the phrase “Right Wing Death Squad,” which is popular among right-wing extremists and white supremacy groups.
And a preliminary review of what were believed to be the shooter’s social media accounts revealed “hundreds of posts” that expressed interest in white supremacist and neo-Nazi views, per NBC.
What we know about the shooting victims
Five of the deceased victims ranging in age from 5 to 61 years old have been publicly identified.
Christian LaCour, a 20-year-old security guard from Farmersville, Texas, died while working at the mall, his sister, Brianna Smith, told ABC News.
“He was a really sweet kid. I’m sad that he’s gone,” Smith said.
Aishwarya Thatikonda, a 27-year-old Indian engineer, who lived in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas, was at the mall with a friend, per the BBC. Thatikonda was killed in the shooting. Her friend was wounded.
Three members of a Korean American family were also among the deceased victims, according to the Dallas Morning News. Cho Kyu Song, 37, Kang Shin Young, 35, and their 3-year-old son were killed. Another child of the couple, a 5-year-old, survived and is being treated at a hospital.
Governor blames ‘mental health crisis’
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bemoaned the nation’s mental health crisis while resisting calls for stricter gun control.
“What Texas is doing in a big-time way, we are working to address that anger and violence but going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it,” Abbott said, adding: "People want a quick solution. The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue.”
In a statement, President Biden called on Congress to enact tougher gun laws while noting that there have been nearly 200 mass shootings in the United States already this year.
“An assailant in tactical gear armed with an AR-15 style assault weapon gunned down innocent people in a shopping mall, and not for the first time,” Biden said. “Such an attack is too shocking to be so familiar.”
How the SUV tragedy unfolded
On Sunday morning, tragedy struck the border town of Brownsville in the southeast corner of the state. An SUV driver killed eight people and injured another 10 when he ran his car into a line waiting to board a bus outside a migrant center.
Shelter director Victor Maldonado, who reviewed the security footage, told the Associated Press that “this SUV, a Range Rover, just ran the light that was about 100 feet (30 meters) away and just went through the people who were sitting there in the bus stop.”
The Brownsville Police Department said the driver tried to flee the scene after the SUV flipped but was held down by bystanders before being taken to the hospital, where his blood was tested for drugs and alcohol. On Monday morning, CNN released video of the driver being restrained outside the Ozanam Center. Many of the victims were Venezuelan.
Driver is charged with manslaughter
At a press conference Monday morning, police announced that the driver was Brownsville native George Alvarez, 34. Chief Felix Sauceda said Alvarez had a previous record and was being charged with reckless driving, eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Sauceda added that Alvarez was now out of the hospital in police custody, they weren’t ruling out any potential motives and they were working with the Venezuelan government.
Lt. Martin Sandoval said Sunday that Alvarez wasn’t cooperating with police, saying, “It's not simply just combative. He is just saying, ‘No, I am not going to do this,’ and he will tense up and so it kind of makes it harder for the detention officers to do their jobs, but we are talking to him.”
A mass was held at the site of the crash Sunday night, and additional vigils are planned.
“Pray for those who saw it happen; they are devastated,” said Bishop Daniel Flores, who led the service. “Many first responders attended the Mass; pray for them also, for the burden they carry is great.”
An influx of migrants
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited Brownsville on Friday and said authorities were facing “extremely challenging” circumstances as Title 42, a pandemic-era border restriction, was set to end. Mayorkas noted that there had been a particular surge in migrants from Venezuela for reasons that were unclear.
In order to reduce the number of migrants entering the country, the Biden administration is set to implement new restrictions on asylum seekers, including denying entry to anyone who crossed through another country without applying for protections there before reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. The proposed regulation, which will make it easier to quickly deport asylum seekers who are disqualified under the new rule, was widely condemned by immigration and human rights advocates when it was unveiled in February.
Brownsville is among the Texas border communities to issue emergency declarations in advance of Title 42 ending. In late April, officials said they had never seen such high numbers of migrants.