Authorities Silent on Whether Allen Mass Shooting Was a Hate Crime.
The Texas Department of Public Safety provided an update on the May 6 mass shooting at Allen Premium Outlets in which eight people were killed, including three children, and several more were injured. During the press conference, officials stated that Mauricio Garcia, the shooter, had “neo-Nazi Ideation,” as confirmed by his social media posts, the patches on his clothing, and tattoos found on his body. The Texas DPS regional director, Hank Sibley, also noted that Garcia targeted the location rather than a specific group of people as he shot people randomly regardless of their age, race, or sex. However, some Texas-based Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups complained that the shooting should be treated as a hate crime since Allen and the adjacent cities of Plano, Frisco, and Carrollton have one of the largest Asian American populations outside of the coasts.
Stephanie Drenka of the Dallas Asian American Historical Society stated that AAPI groups are demanding a full and thorough investigation by local and federal officials to determine whether this was a racially motivated hate crime. Lily Trieu of Asian Texans for Justice hinted a trend developing in how local law enforcement works on possible hate crimes and accused DPS of making flippant comments without considering the facts. Meanwhile, the FBI Dallas spokesperson, Melinda Urbina, stressed that agencies can only confirm what they know for certain, and there’s a process that must be followed, which involves more information than what the public is often privy to.
The Department of Justice defines federal hate crimes as “crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.” Since Garcia cannot be interrogated, investigators have much work to do to determine whether he was targeting the Allen victims based on race or if he was looking for a place to inflict the most damage within a short time, regardless of race. Law enforcement can never rule out any possible reason for a crime until there’s evidence that leads them to do so. Although police have reason to believe Garcia was a white supremacist, clear evidence that he set out to kill anyone based on a specific race has not been uncovered yet.
Urbina noted that the investigation into a crime doesn’t change much after it’s been determined that a hate crime had occurred. Any change in procedure at that point would likely have more to do with deciding whether it’s a state case, a federal case, or both. The conclusion they draw has to be supported by evidence, and it takes time. The investigation into the Allen shooting is still ongoing, and authorities have yet to provide any new information.