Mourners and protesters gather for vigil outside scene of Allen shooting
The mood outside Allen Premium Outlet Sunday evening was somber and quiet as dozens of mourners gathered outside the mall. Against a backdrop of black crosses adorned with flowers, some folks cried, some prayed on their knees, and others stood silently.
The people were there to mourn the victims of a shooting that took place at the shopping center the previous day. Eight people were killed when 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia opened fire at the mall. Five others remain hospitalized, three in critical condition.
Colin Palakiko was shopping in a Tori Burch store when Garcia started shooting. Palakiko said he sheltered in place in a backroom while Garcia opened fire.
He said the event was terrifying, but folks slipped into an automatic response.
“The most shocking thing about it to me was the fact that we all just kind of knew what to do because this happens so often,” Palakiko said.
When police led him and other witnesses from the shop, he said they were routed around several bodies covered in blood.
In a press conference with other elected officials, Allen’s Chief of Police, Brian Harvey, said an officer was responding to an unrelated call at the outlets when he heard gunfire.
“He heard gunshots, located the shooter and — neutralized the shooter — neutralized the threat,” Harvey said.
Other elected officials joined Chief Harvey. They all asked the community to pray for the victims and their families. The City of Allen will continue to provide details as they become available.
A small group of protestors were also in attendance. They demanded action from elected officials.
Shawnda Atkins sat with her daughters holding signs that read, “Have y’all changed your mind on gun laws yet?”
Atkins says she arrived at the mall just as Garcia started shooting. She fled the scene in a panic.
“I always come to the Allen outlet. It’s always felt so safe to me. But when you look at the problem that we have as a whole here in America, it’s time that we take a stand,” she said, posterboard in hand.
Atkins said she was shocked by the senseless violence.
Community leader Cheryl Jackson of Minnie’s Food Pantry led the mourners in prayer and a verse of Amazing Grace while candles were placed around the crosses.
The group chanted, “Enough is enough,” while lighting votives.
As the group dispersed, many stayed behind to sit quietly amidst the glow of the candlelight.
Details about Garcia’s motive and victims have not been confirmed. President Joe Biden said in a statement that Garcia used “an AR-15 style assault weapon” and wore “tactical gear.” He also said children were among those killed.
Police are currently investigating Garcia and his motives. Authorities have searched his motel room and other locations with connections to him.
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