A gunman opened fire at a crowded mall outside Dallas on Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring at least seven before a police officer killed him, the authorities said, turning a busy afternoon of shopping into a chaotic and tragic scene.
At a news conference on Saturday night, Brian E. Harvey, the chief of police in Allen, Texas, did not identify the gunman but said the person acted alone. Chief Harvey said a police officer, who was on an unrelated assignment at the mall at the time of the shooting, heard gunfire, rushed toward it and killed the gunman.
A spokesperson for Medical City Healthcare, which was treating several victims at three trauma facilities, said the ages of the injured ranged from 5 to 61.
The gunfire erupted around 3.30 pm at the Allen Premium Outlets as throngs of shoppers filled the outdoor mall, which is about 25 miles north of Dallas and has more than 120 stores. Videos circulating on social media show people dashing for shelter or running through a parking lot as loud popping noises can be heard in the background.
Seven people, including the gunman, were pronounced dead at the mall. Officials could account for at least nine people who were transported to hospitals, but more victims may have been taken in private vehicles, the Allen fire chief, Jonathan Boyd, said. Two of those died later. Three were in critical condition and four were in stable condition.
A video circulating on social media appeared to show the gunman, lying on the ground, clad in black and equipped with what appeared to be a tactical vest, multiple rounds of ammunition and a long gun. Saturday’s attack is the second-deadliest shooting of the year, after the Monterey Park massacre in which a gunman killed 11 people in a ballroom on January 21.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a database of shootings in the US, there have been 199 “mass shootings”, which it defines as the shooting of at least four people, in 2023. Last weekend, a gunman killed five people in Cleveland, Texas, near Houston, after he was asked by neighbours to stop shooting in his yard.
On Monday, a registered sex offender fatally shot six people, including his wife and three of her children, near Tulsa, Oklahoma, before turning the gun on himself. On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at a medical office building in Atlanta, killing one and injuring four others. In Allen, Texas, witnesses described a familiar scene of pandemonium as gunfire erupted. Geoffrey Keaton was having lunch with his 16-year-old daughter at Fatburger in the outlet mall when they heard gunshots.
“I immediately knew,” Keaton said. “I got my baby girl under the counter to shield her, and then they got louder, like he was right there.” Keaton said 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,” Keaton said. A livestream from a local Fox television affiliate showed scores of shoppers being evacuated in an orderly fashion from shops like H&M, Michael Kors, American Eagle and Kay Jewelers.
Kaleo Palakiko, 36, was shopping with his parents for an upcoming vacation when they saw people running outside. “It was just kind of chaotic for a second. Then when someone said, ‘shooter,’ we all ran to the back of the store,” Palakiko said. “As Americans, we’re used to this, because everyone knew exactly what to do.”
New York Times News Service