A lone gunman opened fire at a bustling mall north of Dallas, Texas, killing at least eight people, including children, and injuring seven others. The shooter was killed by an on-duty police officer who happened to be at the mall on an unrelated call.
At a news conference late Saturday, Allen Police Chief Brian E. Harvey told reporters the officer heard gunshots at 3:36 p.m. local time outside the Allen Premium Outlets mall and immediately engaged with the suspect, neutralizing the threat.
The identities of the gunman and the victims had not been released as of early Sunday.
U.S. Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas., confirmed multiple fatalities, including children, but said authorities remain unsure of the shooter’s motive, CBS News said.
Videos circulating on social media captured the chaos, showing terrified shoppers running through the mall’s parking lot as loud pops echoed in the background.
Reuters said television aerial footage captured hundreds of individuals calmly exiting the mall, about 25 miles northeast of Dallas, following the violent incident. Many of them had their hands raised while a significant number of police officers maintained a vigilant presence.
An anonymous eyewitness, speaking to local ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, described the gunman as “walking down the sidewalk just ... shooting his gun outside,” and that “he was just shooting his gun everywhere for the most part.”
Visible traces of blood stained the sidewalks outside the mall, and white sheets concealed what appeared to be lifeless bodies.
Speaking with CNN, Kimberly Blakey recounted her experience fleeing the parking lot with her 14-year-old daughter during the attack, describing the continuous gunfire. In their attempt to escape, they initially drove toward the gunshots before turning around and getting caught in a traffic jam with other fleeing vehicles.
Their car was hit twice by bullets. “I told my daughter to get down. She did, and I could hear her start praying,” Blakey was quoted as saying. Despite a flat tire warning, they continued driving until they reached home.
Witnesses at the mall told The Associated Press they saw several victims, including some who seemed to be children. They also reported seeing a police officer and a security guard who appeared to be unconscious on the ground.
At least nine people were hospitalized following the incident, with their ages ranging from 5 to 61, according to a spokesperson for Medical City Healthcare, which operates three trauma facilities treating the victims, according to The New York Times.
A picture acquired by CNN seemingly displays the shooter on the ground after being struck, with a firearm resembling an AR-15 close by. Dressed in black body armor, he appears to have multiple additional magazines fastened to his chest equipment.
A law enforcement source was quoted as saying authorities believe they have located the deceased suspect's vehicle, and as a precautionary measure, a bomb squad was inspecting it early Sunday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expressed his condolences, calling the incident an “unspeakable tragedy.” He offered the full support of the state, including resources and assistance, to help local officials in their response to the tragedy.
Abbott told media he has been in touch with the mayor of Allen and the Texas Department of Public Safety, offering the assistance of Texas Rangers and other investigative resources. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also responded to the scene.
The mall, which features over 120 stores, was filled with weekend shoppers at the time of the shooting.
The Gun Violence Archive has recorded at least 198 shootings this year thus far, the highest number at this point in the year since at least 2016, Reuters noted.