(Washington) US President Joe Biden again urged Congress on Sunday to ban assault rifles after a shooter killed eight people, including children, at a shopping mall in Texas.
Joe Biden denounced a “senseless act of violence” in a statement, and ordered flags flown at half-mast above the White House and federal and military public buildings in tribute to the victims.
The US president also again urged Congress to ban assault rifles and put in place measures to restrict access to weapons.
“Too many families have empty chairs around their table. Republican members of Congress cannot continue to respond to this outbreak with a shrug of the shoulders,” he blasted.
But his appeal is unlikely to succeed because Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are vehemently opposed to such measures.
The new mass shooting in the United States caused panic on Saturday at the Allen Premium Outlets, a large shopping center in the town of Allen, some 40 kilometers north of Dallas, where many customers were shopping for the weekend.
A police officer was at the scene on another case when the shots rang out around 3:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. EST) and “incapacitated” the suspect, local police chief Brian Harvey said.
CCTV footage released by CNN shows the shooter getting out of a sedan in the shopping center parking lot and opening fire, without his motive being known.
The man was dressed in paramilitary gear and had an assault rifle in his hand, the White House said.
According to several American media, the suspect was identified as Mauricio Garcia, a 33-year-old man.
“Allen is a safe and proud city, which makes this senseless act of violence even more shocking,” Allen Mayor Ken Fulk said.
Six people died at the scene and two others died in hospital. Among them were children, the White House said.
Three of the seven injured required emergency surgery, Allen Fire Chief Jonathan Boyd said.
It is the second deadliest shooting in the United States in 2023, after the Monterey Park shooting in California that killed eleven people in January.
State Governor Greg Abbott lamented an “unspeakable tragedy.” Texas is one of the most permissive US states when it comes to carrying guns.
According to the authorities, the rapid intervention of the police and firefighters made it possible to “save lives”.
Steven Spainhouer, a witness at the scene, explained that he tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate several victims, including a woman.
“I tried to take her pulse, I turned her head to the side and she had no face,” he told CBS with great emotion.
The man says he also rescued a child who survived being protected by the body of his mother, who was killed. “He was covered from head to toe in blood, as if someone had poured it on him.”
“It’s a situation I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s just unimaginable to see such carnage,” he added.
Jaynal Pervez, another witness interviewed by CBS, described seeing “shoes, people’s phones on the street.”
This new drama is part of a close succession of killings, notably in Texas, where five people, including a 9-year-old child, were killed the previous weekend by a man armed with an assault rifle.
With more guns than people, the United States has the highest gun death rate of any developed country: 49,000 in 2021, down from 45,000 in 2020.
The specialized site Gun Violence Archive has already identified this year in the United States more than 199 acts where four or more people were injured or killed by gunshots.