A gunman fired into a crowd at a suburban Dallas outlet mall Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring seven others as horrific images of severely wounded shoppers hit social media and brought the number of mass shootings in the U.S. to 200 so far in 2023.
At least three of the survivors are critically injured. The gunman was fatally shot by a police officer in the area who responded quickly.
Early reports from police and witnesses said a gunman pulled up in a gray Honda Accord at the Premium Outlets in Allen, Texas, about 30 miles from downtown Dallas. The unidentified man began firing on people walking on sidewalks outside the outlet center, a popular shopping spot with many upscale stores such as Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein and Ann Taylor.
The White House said President Biden had been briefed on the shooting and that the administration had offered support to local officials. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has signed laws easing firearms restrictions following past mass shootings, called it an “unspeakable tragedy.”
Saturday’s mass shooting was the nation’s third of the day, following others in Chico, Calif. and Columbus, Ohio, on an afternoon when many Americans were focused on the Kentucky Derby and summer-like weather. Mass killings are happening with staggering frequency in the United States this year: an average of about one a week, according to an analysis of the Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University mass killing database. The Gun Violence Archive shows the Texas mass shooting is the 200th in the nation this year and the 12th in May.
Witnesses to the Texas shooting said several of the victims appeared to be children, and that they saw a police officer and a mall security guard who appeared to be unconscious on the ground. Dashcam video circulating on social media shows the gunman stepping out of a car and firing more than two dozen shots as terrified shoppers dove for cover and screamed for help.
Allen police said in a Facebook post that at least eight victims had been taken to hospitals. Medical City Healthcare, a Dallas-area hospital system, said in a statement it was treating eight between the ages of 5 and 61.
An Allen Police officer was in the area on an unrelated call when the officer heard gunshots at Allen Premium Outlets at 3:36 p.m. local time, the local police department wrote on Facebook.
“The officer engaged the suspect and neutralized the threat. He then called for emergency personnel. Nine victims were transported to local hospitals by Allen Fire Department,” police said in the Facebook post. “There is no longer an active threat.”
A crowd of hundreds of people who had been shopping stood outside, across the street from the mall, Saturday evening. Officers circulated among them asking if anyone had seen what happened.
Joseph Adams, who was shopping with his 12-year-old son, told the Dallas Morning News he initially thought a “car had driven through the front of the building” when the gunshots rang out.
“That’s how loud it was,” he said.
After fleeing, he said, he drove past and saw at least four people lying on the sidewalk. He tried to help those wounded, including a child shot in the neck.
“People were yelling for help, for ambulances, as cops drove by looking for the shooter,” Adams said. “It was just chaos. I did everything I could think of to help, and as a teacher, all I want to do is help kids, but it’s horrible to think it was at the risk of my own kid seeing it.”
Fontayne Payton, 35, was at H&M when he heard the sound of gunshots through the headphones he was wearing.
DATABASEMass killing database — Revealing trends, details and anguish of every US event since 2006
“It was so loud, it sounded like it was right outside,” Payton said.
People in the store scattered before employees ushered the group into the fitting rooms and then a lockable back room, he said. When they were given the all-clear to leave, Payton saw the store had broken windows and a trail of blood to the door. Discarded sandals and bloodied clothes were laying nearby.
Once outside, Payton saw bodies.
“I pray it wasn’t kids, but it looked like kids,” he said. The bodies were covered in white towels, slumped over bags on the ground, he said. “It broke me when I walked out to see that,” he said.
Further away, he saw the body of a heavyset man wearing all black. He assumed it was the shooter, Payton said, because unlike the other bodies it had not been covered up.
Tarakram Nunna, 25, and Ramakrishna Mullapudi, 26, said they saw what appeared to be three people lying motionless on the ground, including one who appeared to be a police officer and another who appeared to be a mall security guard.
Another shopper, Sharkie Mouli, 24, said he hid in a Banana Republic store during the shooting. As he left, he saw what appeared to be an unconscious police officer lying next to another unconscious person outside the outlet store.
“I have seen his gun lying right next to him and a guy who is like passing out right next to him,” Mouli said.
Stan and Mary Ann Greene were browsing in the Columbia sportswear store when the shooting started.
“We had just gotten in, just a couple minutes earlier, and we just heard a lot of loud popping,” Mary Ann Greene told The Associated Press.
Employees immediately rolled down the security gate and brought everyone to the rear of the store until police arrived and escorted them out, the Greenes said.
Eber Romero was at the Under Armour store when a cashier mentioned that there was a shooting.
As he left the store, Romero said, the mall appeared empty, and all the shops had their security gates down. That is when he started seeing broken glass and people who had been shot on the floor.
The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as four or more people being shot. The database shows that there have been 12 mass shootings in May and 56 in April. Mass killings take place far more often in private homes than in schools, retail outlets, supermarkets or churches.
Contributing: Associated Press