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‘They’re still shooting’: Frantic audio from officers at the Texas mall massacre reveals chaos during the carnage

<i>Tony Gutierrez/AP</i><br/>Mourners leave flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in Allen
Tony Gutierrez/AP
Mourners leave flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in Allen

By Holly Yan, Tina Burnside, Caroll Alvarado, Chris Boyette, Justin Lear and LJ Spaet, CNN

(CNN) — A breathless hunt for a killer amid famed American retail stores can be heard in emergency dispatches recorded during the outlet mall massacre in Allen, Texas.

“We got shots fired at the outlet mall,” an officer tells a dispatcher Saturday in audio first obtained by The Dallas Morning News. “We got people running.”

“I’m trying to get to him,” another officer seems to say. “They’re still shooting.”

Then a frantic call for backup crosses the police radio: “I need everybody I got.”

One officer says he can’t find the shooter.

“By Tommy Hilfiger. I don’t know where he’s at,” the officer says, sounding out of breath.

He can still hear shots, he says.

A dispatcher says they’ve gotten reports of shots fired by the Nike store on the north side of the mall.

“Watch your fire,” the officer said. It is unclear to whom he’s speaking.

By the end of the bloody rampage, eight people had been killed and at least seven others wounded in the nation’s second-deadliest mass shooting of this year.

The assault ended when an Allen officer at the scene for an unrelated call killed the gunman.

A security guard died trying to help shoppers escape

Christian LaCour, a 20-year-old mall security guard, was killed while trying to rush people to safety, authorities have said.

“We also must acknowledge the bravery of Allied (Universal) security guard Christian LaCour, who evacuated one individual to safety and was shot while courageously remaining to help others,” Allen Police Chief Brian Harvey said Tuesday.

LaCour was “the kind of person who would just walk into the store and everyone in the room would light up because he was there,” said Max Weiss, a mall store employee.

LaCour’s family will celebrate his life Monday at a church in Allen. People who want to attend were asked to wear red and black, his favorite colors.

“Christian was all about comfort and encouraging others to express their true selves,” his mother, Tracye Norris LaCour, wrote on Facebook in announcing the remembrance event. “Therefore, we ask that those who attend dress in jeans and a tee shirt from their favorite musical or band, movie or cartoon, book, video game, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comic book or Anime as these are the things that brought our son joy.”

Another victim, Elio Cumana-Rivas, worked hard as a delivery driver to support his parents who live in Venezuela, his brother Gregory Smith Cumana told CNN.

“We were all very close,” said Cumana. “He helped his mother buy her medicine, and he would also contact our dad and make sure he had everything he needed.”

And a 6-year-old boy is now orphaned after his younger brother and parents were gunned down. Cho Kyu Song, 37; Kang Shin Young, 35; and their 3-year-old son were all killed.

Trinity Whitley knew two members of the family: the slain toddler, James, was in her day care class, and his late mother was her dentist, Whitley told CNN affiliate WFAA.

A gray, stuffed elephant is pinned to James’ cross at the memorial. The boy loved wearing elephant bibs and shirts, Whitley said.

James “was innocent, and he did nothing wrong,” Whitley told WFAA. “He loved elephants, loved elephants.”

Two elementary school students, sisters Daniela and Sofia Mendoza, were also killed. Their mother, Ilda Mendoza, was hospitalized in critical condition as of Monday; her current condition is unclear.

‘Medics were shocked’

Witnesses described a gruesome scene, with some victims riddled with gunshot wounds from the assailant’s AR-15-style rifle.

“Ambulances came and the medics were shocked,” said Steven Spainhouer, a military veteran who tried to perform CPR on three mortally wounded victims.

“We were going to try and triage on the site, but they said, ‘No, These horrific injuries … we can’t triage. Just load them in the ambulance and go,’” Spainhouer said.

Allen police subsequently disputed parts of Spainhouer’s account, noting “inconsistencies” between his media interviews and the facts of the investigation.

The department said it conducted a follow-up interview with Spainhouer and “determined that (he) is not a credible incident witness.” Spainhouer said he was “hurt and disappointed” by the department’s news release and stood by his account.

Six injured patients were being treated Wednesday at Dallas-area Medical City Healthcare hospitals, the healthcare network said.

Among them, one patient was in critical condition; two patients were in fair condition; and three patients were in good condition – including a child at Medical City Children’s Hospital.

One wounded victim, Irvin Walker II, faces a long recovery after being shot at least twice, his daughter and an attorney said at a news conference Wednesday.

“There are so many bullet fragments that’s large inside of his body that the doctor finally said, ‘There’s just nothing we can do about it,’” attorney Daryl K. Washington said, adding that one fragment was “only inches away from his heart.”

According to his daughter, Jasmine Walker, he was shot as he was parking his car before he was to go shopping. He had just let a woman he was with out of the car so she could get into a store that had a long line while he found a spot for the vehicle, Washington said.

Jasmine Walker said her father’s health has gotten “a lot better” after the first surgery earlier this week. Despite his pain, Irvin Walker has been inspiring his family.

“That’s just the type of person he is,” Jasmine Walker said.

Walker needs a second surgery, which will take place Friday, and future procedures like cosmetic surgery, Washington said.

The victim’s longtime friend, Anthony Calime, said Irvin Walker is bouyed by his strong faith.

“He just kinda looked at me and so he said, ‘Calime … they can’t take me out. I’m God’s people. He covered me. He had me protected,’” Calime told reporters.

His daughter said her father was a ways to go and they are taking it one day at a time but “he knows he’s covered.”

Calime said Walker was thankful for the support of a verified GoFundMe set up on his behalf.

While mourners across the country try to help victims’ families, the FBI warns that scammers may try to take advantage of the tragedy. “We are aware of multiple fake online fundraisers that are currently underway for the victims,” said Chad Yarbrough, special agent-in-charge for FBI Dallas.

GoFundMe has announced a hub of legitimate fundraising accounts to help support families impacted by the Allen mall attack.

Disturbing online posts before the shooting

The gunman, 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, was carrying three guns and had five more in his car, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Hank Sibley said. US mass shooters often have used AR-15-style rifles.

All the guns Garcia brought were legally obtained, Sibley said.

Garcia, who had previously worked as a security guard, had no documented criminal history, Sibley said.

Investigators have discovered online posts in which Garcia appears to have espoused support for Nazism and obsessed over guns and prior mass shootings.

Garcia also had tattoos and patches expressing neo-Nazi ideation, Sibley said.

After he was shot, Garcia was found wearing a patch that reads “RWDS,” which authorities believe may stand for “Right Wing Death Squad,” a senior law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told CNN.

The insignia also appears to be shown in a photo posted by an account user on the Russian social media website Odnoklassniki that a law enforcement source said investigators believe belongs to Garcia.

In the weeks leading up to the Texas mall massacre, the user posted a screenshot from Google Maps showing what times of day the mall was busiest. The user also posted a photo of the mall and writings supporting Nazi ideology.

But it did not appear the gunman was targeting people based on their ethnicity during the attack.

“To me, it looks like he targeted a location rather than a specific group of people,” Sibley said.

This article was updated on May 16 to reflect the Allen Police Department’s statement disputing parts of Steven Spainhouer’s eyewitness account.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe, Michelle Watson, Ed Lavandera, Andy Rose, Haley Britzky, Michael Conte, Amanda Jackson, Christina Zdanowicz, Steve Almasy, Jillian Sykes, Josh Campbell, Sara Smart, Casey Tolan, Paul Murphy and Curt Devine contributed to this report.

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