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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 21 February 2024

Texas mall shooting: Police search for motive after rampage; Joe Biden renews gun control call

According to US media reports, authorities are looking into social media accounts linked to a shooter who opened fire at an outlet mall, killing eight

Deutsche Welle Published 08.05.23, 11:06 AM
A day after eight people died in an attack at a Texas mall, police are trying to determine the shooter's motive.

A day after eight people died in an attack at a Texas mall, police are trying to determine the shooter's motive. Deutsche Welle

Texas police and US federal authorities intensified their investigations on Sunday after a 33-year-old man opened fire at a mall a day prior, killing at least eight people and injuring several others.

The killings were the latest in a slew of mass shootings that have shaken the nation, prompting renewed calls from US President Joe Biden for lawmakers to take action on gun control.

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What more has been revealed?

The shooting took place on Saturday afternoon at the Allen Premium Outlets mall, located in the Dallas suburb of Allen, Texas.

Authorities also released the shooter's identity, saying he was a 33-year-old man.

By Sunday evening, officials had not yet publicly released further details on the shooter — or the identities of the victims or their ages.

Witnesses and first responders described scenes of panic at the outlet mall, reporting that children were among the victims. Eight people were killed and at least seven others were wounded before the shooter was killed by police.

US President Joe Biden said the shooter used an AR-15 rifle in the assault and was wearing tactical gear.

Video circulating online showed the gunman exiting a car in the mall's parking lot on Saturday before he opened fire on those walking nearby.

Social media accounts under scrutiny — reports

While officials have not revealed details of their investigations, US media reported that authorities were looking into a possible extremist motive.

Federal agents have been reviewing social media accounts allegedly used by the shooter and posts which showed interest in white supremacy and neo-Nazi views, an official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

AP reported that the 33-year-old also had a patch on his chest which read "RWDS," which stands for "Right Wing Death Squad," — a phrase popular within the right-wing extremist and white supremacy communities.

Agents are also interviewing the shooter's family and known associates, and investigating his finances.

Renewed call for gun control

US President Joe Biden on Sunday renewed his call for a national ban on assault weapons and other gun safety measures.

"Eight Americans — including children — were killed yesterday in the latest act of gun violence to devastate our nation," Biden said in a statement Sunday morning.

"Once again, I ask Congress to send me a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines."

Biden also called for universal background checks for gun purchases and an end to legal immunity for manufacturers whose weapons are used in attacks. "I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe," Biden said.

The US president also ordered flags across the country to be lowered to half-staff "as a mark of respect for the victims."

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution permits gun ownership, though it also says it should be "well regulated," making gun control a topic of heated debate in the country.

Most Democratic politicians support stricter gun control laws while Republicans, some of whom are backed by gun lobbies and manufacturers, have resisted any legal steps.

Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, called the shooting "devastating" in an interview on Fox News and said the way to prevent gun violence should involve addressing mental illness.

Gun violence occurs regularly in the United States, where there are more firearms than inhabitants.

Data from the Gun Violence Archive — which defines a mass shooting as those in which four or more people are shot, excluding the attacker — shows more than one mass shooting has taken place every day in 2023 on average. The group has logged 202 mass shootings this year, 128 days into the year.

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