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Police in Texas says shooting victims at outlet mall ranged from 5 to 61 years old

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At a Texas shopping mall over the weekend, a gunman killed eight people before a police officer killed him.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And here is some perspective on that shooting. It was not the worst mass shooting in years in the United States; nor was it even the worst mass shooting this year. Rather, it is the second-worst mass shooting so far this year, coming behind a shooting in Monterey Park, Calif. Police say the victims in Texas ranged from 5 years old to 61 years old.

MARTIN: KERA's Katherine Hobbs is with us now from Dallas with the latest on what happened and how people are responding. Katherine, good morning.

KATHERINE HOBBS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: First, can you - what can you tell us about the person who did this?

HOBBS: So police have identified the shooter as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia. And while the investigation is ongoing, authorities have already searched Garcia's motel room and a nearby Dallas home with connections to him. Details about his motive haven't been confirmed yet, but President Biden spoke yesterday and said that Garcia used an AR-15-style assault weapon and wore tactical gear to the mall that day. He also said that children were among those killed. And the AP is reporting that police are looking into Garcia's ideology as a possible motive.

MARTIN: I understand that several vigils took place last night across north Texas. You went to one at the site of the shooting at the mall. Would you just tell us what you saw?

HOBBS: So a small group of protesters were demanding action from elected officials. Shawnda Atkins sat with her daughters, and she held a sign that read, have y'all changed your mind on gun laws yet? Atkins says she arrived at the mall the day of the shooting just moments before Garcia opened fire, and she fled in a panic.

SHAWNDA ATKINS: I always come to Allen outlet. It's always felt so safe to me. But when you look at the gun problem that we have as a whole here in America, it's time that we take a stance.

HOBBS: Atkins said she was really shocked by the senseless violence. And there were no counterprotesters in attendance at the scene last night. Also in attendance was community leader Cheryl Jackson. She runs Minnie's Food Pantry in Allen, Texas, and she led the mourners in prayer and in a verse of "Amazing Grace" while candles were being placed around the crosses. The group chanted enough is enough while lighting their votives. And as the group ended up dispersing at the end, many stayed behind to sit quietly amidst the glow of the candlelight.

MARTIN: You know, you could really hear the emotion in her voice. What about some of the other people that you had a chance to speak with? How has this affected them?

HOBBS: I spoke with several people at the vigil, and many of them there don't have a personal connection to the victims or their families. One woman I talked with, Catherine Reid, was kneeling in the grass, and she prayed for several minutes and said that when her community is hurting, she is hurting, and that even in the face of anger, she's always going to pray for her community. Across the lawn from her, there were a group of teenagers who sat huddled together and crying. They told me that they were terrified to go to school, that they never knew if they were safe. And they were embracing each other and were reassuring each other as best they could that they were all OK. But one girl broke away from the group and whispered to me that she doesn't believe her friends and she doesn't ever really know if she can be sure that she is safe.

MARTIN: And before we let you go, what are the elected officials saying?

HOBBS: I was at a press conference a couple of nights ago, and during that press conference, we heard from a handful of officials. One of them who spoke was the Allen chief of police and, you know, other officials as well. And they all asked the community to pray for victims and their families. All the officials said that they'll continue to provide details as they do become available. No one who spoke mentioned anything about policy or legislation. But speaking Sunday on Fox News, Governor Greg Abbott said that Texas lawmakers won't enact gun control for now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREG ABBOTT: There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that's taking place in America. And what Texas is doing in a big-time way - we are working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.

HOBBS: At the federal level, President Biden urged Congress to pass meaningful gun control laws. He said that would include universal background checks and the safe storage of firearms.

MARTIN: That is KERA's Katherine Hobbs reporting.

Katherine, thank you so much.

HOBBS: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Katherine Hobbs