A gunman who killed at least eight people and injured several others at a Texas shopping centre was a 33-year-old suspected neo-Nazi sympathiser, police have said.
Police have named Mauricio Garcia as the gunman who opened fire on shoppers at the Allen Premium Outlets mall, in a suburb north of Dallas, on Saturday.
Garcia, who was shot dead by a police officer who happened to be at the scene, was armed with an “AR-15 style assault weapon,” according to President Joe Biden.
He was also wearing a tactical vest and was equipped with a handgun during the shooting, police added.
Garcia, who lived in Dallas, is believed to have interacted with neo-Nazi and white supremacist content online, as well as posting such content, two senior police sources told Sky News’s US partner, NBC News.
According to officers, an initial review of what are believed to be his social media accounts revealed hundreds of posts about ethnicity and race, including what is being described as violent extremist rhetoric.
Authorities also found a clothing patch with a far-right acronym on his chest.
The patch included the letters RWDS, believed to stand for Right Wing Death Squad, according to CBS, who cited two senior police sources.
Right Wing Death Squad are said to be a neo-Nazi group.
Police and the Texas Rangers, working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were investigating whether the shooting was racially or ethnically motivated, officials said.
However, they stressed that the investigation was ongoing and was at an early stage.
Detectives are also said to have interviewed Garcia’s relatives and friends about his ideological beliefs.
According to reports, Garcia lived with his parents in an area of northeast Dallas.
He is also reported to have worked as a security guard.
A neighbour, who asked to be identified only as Julie, told NBC she would see Garcia going to and coming home from work every day like clockwork.
“He tried to acknowledge us but seemed a little off,” Julie said. “He wasn’t somebody you could carry a conversation with.”
She said she was stunned when she learned the suspect’s identity.
“You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out,” she said.
Another neighbour, Gilda Bailey, said three police squad cars were parked outside his house when she got home.
She said officers were not letting the suspect’s relatives inside the residence and that she later saw the FBI removing items from Garcia’s home.
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Saturday’s shooting is the second deadliest mass shooting in the US this year and the second in Texas in a little over a week.
Following the shooting, President Joe Biden renewed calls for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to enact universal background checks and end immunity for gun manufacturers.
“Such an attack is too shocking to be so familiar. And yet, American communities have suffered roughly 200 mass shootings already this year, according to leading counts,” said Biden, who ordered flags to be lowered to half-mast.
There is little chance that the Republican-controlled House or the narrowly Democratic Senate would pass such legislation, despite polls showing most Americans support background checks.
There have been at least 199 mass shootings in the US so far in 2023, the most at this point of the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The president added in a tweet: “Jill and I are praying for their families [of the victims] and those critically injured.
“We’re grateful to the first responders who acted quickly and courageously.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, called the shooting “devastating” in a Sunday morning interview on Fox News.
But he said that the best way to tackle gun violence effectively is through improved mental health services.
“There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that’s taking place in America,” he said.
“We are working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.”