May 7, 2023
Shoppers leaving as law enforcement officers respond to a shooting at the Allen Premium Outlets in Texas on Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS
DALLAS – A gunman shot and killed eight people and wounded at least seven others at a busy mall north of Dallas on Saturday, the police said.
Mr Brian Harvey, chief of police in Allen, Texas, said a police officer, who was on an unrelated assignment at the Allen Premium Outlets at the time, killed the gunman.
The police believe the shooter acted alone. There was no immediate word about his identity or motive.
Allen fire department chief Jon Boyd told the same press conference that his department took at least nine victims with gunshot wounds to hospitals, two of whom died.
Around 4.30pm Central Time, the Allen Police Department said on Twitter that law enforcement was at the mall and an “active investigation is under way”. It advised people to “avoid the area”.
An eyewitness told local ABC affiliate WFAA TV: “He pretty much was walking down the sidewalk just… shooting his gun outside. He was just shooting his gun everywhere for the most part.”
A video circulating on social media showed people running through a carpark in front of a shopping centre with loud popping sounds in the background.
Video footage from local media showed police officers hurrying shoppers out of the mall, with squad cars and emergency vehicles parked near entryways. Blood could be seen on pavements outside the mall and white sheets covered what appeared to be bodies.
A live-stream from a local Fox television affiliate showed scores of shoppers being evacuated in an orderly fashion from shops including H&M, Michael Kors and American Eagle.
Allen Premium Outlets, a mall about 40km north of Dallas, has more than 120 stores.
Allen is home to nearly 107,000 residents.
Mr Geoffrey Keaton was having lunch with his 16-year-old daughter at Fatburger in the mall when they heard gunshots.
“I immediately knew,” he said. “I got my baby girl under the counter to shield her, and then they got louder, like he was right there.”
He added that the restaurant’s manager allowed customers to hide in the back, where they were able to exit through a rear door and run to their cars.
“You could see bodies of people he had shot on the sidewalk,” Mr Keaton said.
Seventeen-year-old Brayson Jones had arrived early for his shift at the Champs Sports store and was sitting in his car when he heard “probably 20-plus shots” and saw people running out of stores.
He said a stranger ran towards his car and motioned to let him inside, before the two drove away.
“As soon as I heard the shots and people yelling, I didn’t wait to see what was going on, I backed out and got out of there,” he added.
In a statement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy”.
He also said he had been in touch with Allen Mayor Ken Fulk and the director of the Texas Department of Safety, Mr Steven McCraw, to offer “the full support of the state of Texas to local officials to ensure all needed assistance and resources are swiftly deployed”.
Mass shootings have become common in the United States, with at least 198 so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The non-profit group defines a mass shooting as any in which four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.
Source: New York Times + Reuters