Gun control debate still rages a year after Texas mall shooting

May 6, 2024
Mauricio Garcia was shot and killed by a police officer within five-and-a-half minutes, but the shooter still managed to murder eight people – including a young security guard with a promising future and four Asian Americans.

It was 12 months ago that 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia pulled up to Allen Premium Outlets in Texas and, armed with an assault rifle and two other firearms, unleashed a torrent of bullets on unsuspecting shoppers.

Garcia, believed by authorities to have held neo-Nazi beliefs, was shot and killed by a police officer within five-and-a-half minutes. But Garcia still managed to murder eight people – including a young security guard with a promising future who had evacuated a wounded person -- and four Asian Americans. Five others were wounded in the shooting.

Not long after sunrise Monday, in front of the outlet mall a steel sculpture appeared with little fanfare or ceremony, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The artwork — a memorial to those killed in the mass shooting here one year ago — is set on a bed of rocks surrounded by seasonal plants. Curving pieces of steel resemble wings, reaching toward the sky.

A temporary nameplate reads “Always Remembered. May 6, 2023,” and will soon be replaced by a permanent bronze plaque. At the top, eight heavy wind chimes sway in the breeze, each representing a life lost, the Morning News reports.

Several Texas advocacy organizations Monday called for state lawmakers and Gov. Brian Abbott to address gun violence issues in the state.

Asian Texans for Justice (ATJ), Dallas Asian American Historical Society, De Colores Collective, KA:LL Community, South Asian Voter Empowerment Education Fund, Remembering Black Dallas, Dallas Truth Racial Healing & Transformation, and Stop AAPI Hate asked state leaders to “address the continued rise in racially motivated crimes and gun violence through meaningful policy change.”

“Despite authorities finding that the gunman held Neo-Nazi ideology and targeted a location with a large AAPI population, Texas government leadership has failed to acknowledge the role of racism and refused to pass legislation preventing further gun violence,” said the open letter from Asian Texas for Justice.

“In 2023, the people of Texas experienced forty-seven additional mass shootings after the Allen Mall Shooting, totaling sixty-five mass shootings in Texas for the year. We will not stay silent in our fight for a safer Texas for all.”

KERA reported that Garcia passed a background check for a security guard license in the state and his license was renewed more than once, even though he had put the letters “SS” on his signature in documents required for license renewal.

Gov. Abbott’s website and Twitter hadn’t mentioned the shooting anniversary as of mid-afternoon Monday. KERA reported that that last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton weighed in on a gun control issue — opposing efforts by the Biden Administration to close what’s known as the “gun show loophole.”

Paxton and Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach announced during a press conference at the Frisco Gun Club they would be suing the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Paxton and Kobach want to block a new rule that will require all gun sellers to be federally licensed and conduct federal background checks on purchasers, including weapons sold at gun shows or in private transactions, KERA reported. The U.S. Department of Justice announced last month that this change applies to all firearm sellers — not just gun store owners.

Texas Department of Public Safety has said Garcia had eight weapons with him on the day of the shooting: three on his person and five in his vehicle. The guns were all legally purchased over time and most were purchased through private sellers without a background check being required, which was legal at the time.

As for Garcia’s alleged Neo-Nazi beliefs and other problems, the Texas Department of Public Safety took over the investigation of the shooting, which had also involved the Allen Police Department, Texas Rangers and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. reached out to TDPS about the status of the investigation and has not received a response.

Among the eight killed in the massacre included Allied Universal employee Chris LaCour, 20, who was in the process of becoming a supervisor. During a press conference following the tragedy, Allen Chief of Police Brian Harvey said LaCour evacuated one person from the shooting before he was shot by the gunman.

“Security guards are unsung heroes who run to danger instead of away from it. It takes a brave, selfless person to move in danger’s direction, and Christian was that kind of a person,” said Steve Jones, global chairman and CEO of Allied Universal. “During the May 2023 shooting, Christian moved in danger’s direction to protect others – the definition of a hero. His heroic efforts helped save lives and that will never be forgotten. I and the entire Allied Universal team honor him and he will forever be a shining example of heroism for others to follow.”

LaCour was announced last fall as the recipient of the 2023 Ralph Day Memorial Security Officer Heroism Award.

Each year, one security officer is recognized by ASIS International, the world’s largest membership organization for security management professionals and host of the GSX Conference, for outstanding service/acts in the security profession through the Ralph Day Memorial Security Officer Heroism Award. This award is meant for those who perform a heroic act that involves circumstances where a private security officer risks their life to protect or save lives and/or property.

GoFundMe fund-raiser for LaCour’s family raised more than $108,000 to offset some of the family’s financial burden.

A memorial to victims of the Allen Premium Outlets mass shooting is seen, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Allen, Texas. The memorial stands 11 feet tall and has eight wind chimes, one for each of the victims of the shooting.

 (Elías Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)