Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of the shooting’s aftermath. Find today’s story here.
The gunman behind the second-deadliest US mass shooting of the year was terminated from the Army due to health concerns and may have been driven by right-wing extremism, sources told CNN.
Eight people – including two elementary school students – were killed after Saturday’s deadly attack at Allen Premium Outlets, a bustling mall in the affluent Dallas suburb of Allen.
Authorities say Mauricio Garcia used an AR-15-style weapon to carry out the massacre before he was gunned down by a police officer. The gunman’s rifle and other guns were purchased legally, a law enforcement source said Monday.
Most of the weapons were purchased from private sellers, which means Garcia didn’t have to go through a federal background check.
The shooter obtained the firearms “over time,” the source said, adding “this was not an instance where he rushed to buy weapons prior to the attack.”
A US defense official told CNN on Monday that Garcia was separated from the Army about 15 years ago because of a mental health condition after an evaluation. Under Army regulations at the time, a commander could approve the separation of a service member for physical or mental health conditions that interfere with an assignment or performance of duty.
Army spokesperson Heather Hagan said Garcia was terminated in June 2008 after three months in the service and did not complete basic training.
While no official motive has been released, the gunman was wearing an insignia that authorities believe may be associated with extremist groups, a senior law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told CNN.
The insignia appears to be shown in a photo on an account on the Russian social media website Odnoklassniki that a law enforcement source said investigators believe belongs to the shooter.
The user posted writings approving of Nazi ideology, shared images of his firearms and uploaded a photo of the mall in the weeks before the shooting.
Posts included photos of a man’s shirtless torso with a large swastika tattoo over the heart, firearms, and a ballistic vest with a patch with the abbreviation for Right-Wing Death Squad. It is unclear whether the person in the shirtless photo is the gunman.
In some posts, the user identifies as an incel and in others, expresses anger toward women. Another post describes people making jokes or awkward comments about the user’s likelihood of committing mass murder.
The account also uploaded a screenshot from Google Maps a few weeks before the shooting showing what times of day the outlet mall was busiest.
According to the first law enforcement source, investigators do not feel they have a complete picture of the suspect’s past and are continuing to dig into his background.
The lives inexplicably lost
Two elementary school students from the Wylie Independent School District were among the eight killed.
Sisters Daniela Mendoza, a fourth-grader, and Sofia Mendoza, a second-grader, were killed in the mass shooting, according to a letter sent to district parents and obtained by CNN.
The girls’ mother, Ilda Mendoza, is hospitalized in critical condition, the letter said.
“Words cannot express the sadness we feel as we grieve the loss of our students,” the letter read in part.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mendoza family, the families of the victims, and all those affected by this senseless tragedy.”
Counseling services are being offered for students, staff and families, the letter said.
Another victim, Aishwarya Thatikonda, a few days away from turning 28, was visiting the mall with a friend, CNN affiliate WFAA reported.
Thatikonda was an engineer who lived in nearby McKinney, but her family is mourning her loss from their home in India, a family representative told WFAA. The family plans to have her body sent to India, the representative said. CNN has reached out to the consulate general of India in Houston for more information.
Christian LaCour, a 20-year-old mall security guard, was also killed in the massacre. LaCour was “a sweet, caring young man who was loved greatly by our family,” his sister Brianna Smith said.
LaCour was “the kind of person who would just walk into the store and everyone in the room would light up because he was t