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Three children among victims of Allen mall shooting in Texas

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A three-year-old boy and his parents, two elementary school children and a young engineer from India have been named as victims of a shooting attack in Texas on Saturday.

James Cho died alongside his parents Cho Kyu Song, 37, and Kang Shin Young, 35, according to reports. His six-year-old brother was injured but survived.

The identifications comes as officials probe whether the killer had links to any far-right organisations or beliefs.

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Several victims remain in hospital.

A verified GoFundMe page says that the Cho family were at the Allen Premium Outlets mall on Saturday to exchange clothing their 6-year-old son had received as a birthday gift a few days before.

“An afternoon that should have been filled with light, love and celebration unfortunately was cut short by another mass shooting massacre,” friends of the family wrote on the page.

Korean consulate officials in Texas told the Dallas Morning News newspaper that the Cho family were American citizens of Korean descent and that diplomats are in contact with their family members.

Primary school pupils Daniela and Sofia Mendoza, who were sisters, were also killed. Their mother, Ida, remains in hospital in critical condition, according to CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.

Aishwarya Thatikonda, a 27-year-old engineer from India, was also killed during a visit to the mall with a friend, as well as security guard Christian LaCour, 20.

Six people were pronounced dead at the scene in the north Dallas suburbs, while two died later in hospital.

The 33-year-old suspect was shot dead by a police officer who was responding to an unrelated call, ending the attack.

Investigators are now reviewing social media to look into the killer’s beliefs, reports CBS.

During the attack, the rifle-wielding attacker wore an insignia which has been associated with hate groups, as well as combat tactical gear.

He was seen on video with a clothing patch with the letters RWDS, which stands for “Right Wing Death Squad”.

This is a phrase popular among right-wing extremists and white supremacy groups.

Image source, Getty Images

An account run by the suspect on a Russia-based social network seen by BBC News includes pictures of Nazi swastikas and SS tattoos, other posts glorifying Nazis, and rambling messages about violence.

He also posted pictures from previous visits to the outlet mall, as recently as mid-April. 

According to the US defence department, the suspect entered the US Army in June 2008 and was “terminated three months later without completing initial entry training” due to “physical or mental conditions”.

He was reportedly working as a security guard at the time of the shooting and did not have a serious criminal record. Officials have searched his parents’ home and a nearby extended-stay motel where he had been recently living.

There have been 201 mass shootings this year according to the Gun Violence Archive which defines such incidents as four people injured or killed.

People who went to help the victims in the aftermath of the shooting at the expansive outdoor mall have recalled their efforts to save lives.

Meanwhile, graphic videos from the scene spread rapidly and were viewed millions of times on Twitter before the social media site began taking the footage down more than 24 hours after the attack.

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US President Joe Biden ordered flags at the White House to fly at half-mast in honour of the victims of “the latest act of gun violence to devastate our nation”.

The Republican governor of Texas, Gregg Abbott, told Fox News Sunday his aim was to target the possession of weapons by criminals and deal with a rising mental health crisis, rather than consider wider bans.

“People want a quick solution,” he said. “The long term solution here is to address the mental health issue.”

Allen is a racially diverse suburb north of Dallas and has an infamous connection with another recent mass shooting.

A man who lived there in 2019 went on a gun rampage at a Walmart in El Paso, killing 23 people, after posting a racist manifesto online. In February he pleaded guilty to hate crime charges.

Additional reporting by Mike Wendling

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