A young child and his parents are among the victims of the Texas Mall shooting
DALLAS (AP) — Among those killed by a gunman at a mall near Dallas over the weekend are two elementary school-age sisters, a couple and their child, a young engineer and a security guard who worked there, and they represented a multicultural cross. Part of the area’s increasingly diverse suburbs.
Cox Elementary School students Daniela and Sofia Mendoza, grades four and two, were among those murdered Saturday at Allen Premium Outlets, according to Wylie Independent School District officials. They were remembered as “the friendliest, most thoughtful students with smiles that could brighten any room,” principal Krista Wilson said in a letter to parents.
Also at the outdoor mall, three members of a Korean-American family were killed: a couple and one of their sons. Another son was injured and still hospitalized, said Myoung-Joon Kim, head of mission at the Republic of Korea consulate in Dallas. The parents have been identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as Kyu Song Cho, 37, and Cindy Cho, 35.
Andria Gaither, assistant manager at the mall’s Tommy Hilfiger, said she was devastated to learn for her life the day after her run when gunshots rang out that one of the dead was Christian LaCour, a security guard who previously worked at the clothing store worked and often stopped to chat.
Just a few nights earlier, she’d called LaCour when a client wanted to come in after hours. He came and asked the man to leave and offered a security escort for her and two teenage employees.
“He wanted us to feel safe,” Gaither said.
“I’m just shocked,” she added. “He was very young, very sweet, used to come visit us all the time.”
Also killed was Aishwarya Thatikonda, 26, who was from India, had a degree in construction management and worked as a civil engineer at Perfect General Contractors in the Dallas area.
She is “always willing to do her best,” company founder Srinivas Chaluvadi said via email.
He said her parents live in Hyderabad, India, where her father is a judge.
“She came to the United States with dreams of having a career, starting a family, owning a home and living in Dallas forever,” Chaluvadi said.
Chaluvadi said Thatikonda would have turned 27 next week and they have become like family: “She would attend birthday parties at my house, we would have parties together and we would have family dinners.”
Telugu Association of North America Treasurer Ashok Kolla said The Dallas Morning News that he didn’t know Thatikonda, but the association often helps families and he works to send their bodies home.
DPS has identified the eighth victim as Elio Cumana-Rivas, 32.
authorities are still trying to put together leading to the attack, which ended when the suspected gunman – 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia – was fatally shot by police.
Federal officials are investigating whether Garcia has expressed an interest in white supremacist ideology, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official warned that the investigation is still at an early stage.
Federal agents have reviewed social media accounts they believe Garcia used, as well as posts expressing interest in views of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, said the official, who could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and was conditional with AP spoke anonymity.
Alvarez reported from Los Angeles and Reynolds from Louisville, Kentucky. Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed.