HomeCommunity Issues3 months after Allen, TX mass shooting, hate not officially a motive

3 months after Allen, TX mass shooting, hate not officially a motive

By Raymond Douglas Chong

A White supremacist gunman slaughtered eight people including four Asians on May 6, 2023, in a mass shooting at the Allen Premium Outlets Mall near Dallas, Texas. Three of the four other fatal victims were Hispanic.

Three months later, hate has not officially been declared a motive in the shooting spree.

Asian Texans for Justice (ATJ), Dallas Asian American Historical Society (DAAHS), and South Asian American Voter Empowerment Texas Education Fund (SAAVETX EF) are urging law enforcement agencies to investigate this mass shooting as a federal hate crime.

“It is essential to conduct a thorough investigation to confirm the shooter’s intentions and establish a clear understanding of the incident. We are urging authorities to investigate this case as a potential hate crime to ensure justice is served,” Chanda Parbhoo, president of South Asian American Voter Empowerment Texas Education Fund told AsAmNews.

Allen, Texas

Allen is located in north central Texas, approximately 25 miles north of downtown Dallas, the fourth largest city in Collin County.  Allen’s population is 109,039 (October 2022). People of color comprised 45.4%, including 19.2 % Asian.

Allen Premium Outlets – A Simon Center – is a shopping center, a mecca for the Asian American community, with more than 120 outlet stores in 548,000 square feet of space.

Asian American community perspectives

“Based on the information available, it appears that the shooter targeted people of color in the Allen Mall mass shooting. The shooter’s online posts expressed dislike towards Indian women and other minority groups. Most of the victims were immigrants, said Parbhoo.

Advocacy groups from the AAPI community are urging Texas lawmakers to stem the tide of anti-Asian violence and to implement gun control in the Lone Star State.

Stephanie Drenka, Dallas Asian American Historical Society Executive Director, and Chanda Parbhoo, South Asian American Voter Empowerment President take part in service following the Allen, TX mall shooting
Stephanie Drenka, Dallas Asian American Historical Society Executive Director, and Chanda Parbhoo, South Asian American Voter Empowerment President, via Stephanie Drenka.

Stephanie Drenka, Dallas Asian American Historical Society Executive Director, says the passage of time has not eased the anxiety among the Asian community in the Dallas area.

“The Allen Mall mass shooting struck fear in the heart of the Asian community,” she said. “As a Korean American adoptee who grew up in a predominately White suburb of North Texas, I experienced racism frequently. Sometimes in the form of microaggressions. But also being told to “Go back to China” or called racial slurs.”

The victims will not be forgotten

Mauricio Martinez Garcia, a Dallas resident with an AR-15-style assault rifle, shot into a crowd outside the Allen Premium Outlets. Within four minutes, he killed seven and wounded eight. An Allen Police Department officer soon killed Garcia.

The murdered victims are:

  • Kyu Song Cho, 37 – Korean American
  • Cindy Cho (Kang Shin Young), 35 – Korean American
  • James Cho, 3 – Korean American
  • Aishwarya Thatikonda – 27 – Indian
  • Daniela Mendoza, 11 – Hispanic
  • Sofia Mendoza, 8 – Hispanic
  • Elio Cumana-Rivas, 32 – Hispanic
  • Christian LaCour, 20 – White

The Cho family lived in Dallas. Kyu Song Cho was an immigration lawyer with Porter Legal Group. Cindy Cho was a dentist at CK Dental City in McKinney. Their youngest child, James, attended daycare in McKinney. William, their 6-year-old son, was wounded but survived.

Aishwarya Thatikonda worked as a project engineer at Perfect General Contractors in Frisco. Her friend was critically wounded.

Daniela and Sofia Mendoza, sisters, studied at Cheri Cox Elementary School in Sasche. Ilda Mendoza, their mother, was wounded but survived.

Elio Cumana-Rivas was seeking asylum from the violence and poverty in Venezuela. His two brothers were killed in that Latin American country.

Christian LaCour was a security guard at the Allen Premium Outlets.

Afterward, a Department of Homeland Security news bulletin stated that Garcia was  “fixated on mass shootings and held views consistent with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist … ideologies.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) is leading the investigation. At the briefing in Allen City Hall, Hank Sibley TDPS North Texas Regional Director, said, “Why did he do this? Well, the big question is, we don’t know. That’s what the investigation is trying to find out.  He remarked, “To me, it looks like he targeted the location rather than a specific group of people. He was very random in the people he killed. It didn’t matter the age, same race or sex. He just shot people — which is horrific in itself.”

Erika L. Moritsugu from the Biden Administration speaks at vigil following the Allen, TX mass shooting
Erika L. Moritsugu, Presidential Deputy Assistant, via Stephanie Drenka.

On Monday evening, May 15, 2023, a rainbow coalition of advocacy groups held a community vigil to honor the murdered and wounded victims at the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church in Dallas. Erika L. Moritsugu, deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, said President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris sent their condolences. They are dedicated to “end the scourge of gun violence.”

Several speakers addressed Garcia’s White supremacist ideals.

Systemic racism in the Dallas region

“Anti-Asian hate in the Dallas-Fort Worth region is not only real, but it has been happening since the earliest Chinese immigrants in the 1800s. Alarmingly, North Texas has become a breeding ground for White Supremacist groups and one of the places where teaching history of racism/doing DEI work is increasingly difficult,” Drenka told AsAmNews.

Dallas Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation (DRTHT), a nonprofit organization, has outlined Dallas’s history of “forced labor, violence, murder, rape, terrorism, torture, lynching, anti-Blackness and the dehumanizing and impoverished after-effects of the chattel slavery system such as Jim Crow laws.” “Racial healing is the process of humanizing us, recognizing the humanity in all of us.” Jerry Hawkins, DRTHT Executive Director, said.

The tribes of Wichita, Caddo, Comanche, Cherokee, Kickapoo, and Tawakoni Indians lived in the Dallas region. The Texan settlers exterminated them. In 1859, the federal government ruthlessly relocated the survivors to reservations in the Oklahoma Territory.

On December 29, 1845, Texas entered the United States as a slave state. After the end of the American Civil War, when the Confederated States were dissolved, the White gentry perpetuated the antebellum status quo in race relations with the “Negroes.”

Jim Crow laws in Texas cut across state, territorial, and local laws enacted between 1866 and 1965. The Texas state legislature enacted Jim Crow laws against Negros that:

  • Required racially segregated schools; all railroad companies to maintain separate coaches for White and Colored passengers; all streetcars to comply with separate coach law; electors pay a poll tax.
  • Prohibited miscegenation; jury service.
  • Provided separate waiting areas for White and “Negro” passengers at depot buildings; segregated county libraries, state tuberculosis sanitariums, state parks, and washrooms.

According to Lynching In Texas, by Sam Houston State University, 51 lynchings by White mobs occurred in the Dallas region between 1882 and 1945.   

The White City Council enacted segregation laws prohibiting Mexicans from attending the same theatres, parks, swimming pools, and schools as Whites. They created segregated schools for Mexican children. They passed English-only laws. They denied them to serve on juries. Mexicans lived in Little Mexico and other barrios along the railroad tracks.

The Dallas region has always been a hotbed for systemic racism. 1907 the City charter was amended to racially segregate schools, churches, and public amusement venues. In 1916, Dallas voters approved a referendum that allowed legal racial housing segregation, known as redlining. 

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) No. 66, the most significant KKK chapter in the world, ruled Dallas during the 1920s. The KKK was a secretive and terroristic White-supremacist organization led by White businessmen. They applied violence, with beatings and intimidation, to curtail the civil liberties of “Negroes.” They endorsed and elected sheriffs, judges, and lawmakers as a political movement. At its peak in 1924, 13,000 men were members of the KKK in Dallas.

In 1956, the Dallas Transit Company ended the segregation on their 530 buses. The Dallas Independent School District was under a desegregation order by the United States District Court from 1971 to 2003. In 1991, the Dallas City Council redistricted its governance into fourteen districts, with one at-large seat held by the Mayor. The citizens elected four Africans and two Hispanics to the City Council.

Dallas Racial History Timeline

The City of Dallas’ 2022-2023 Racial Equity Plan covered the timeline of its racial history.

1853 – In Dallas County’s first legal execution, the sheriff hung an enslaved woman, Jane Elkins, for murdering a White man named Wisdom. He had raped her in his home in Farmers Branch.

1860 – A fire destroyed most of the downtown business district. A White mob lynched three Negroes on the banks of the Trinity River.

1865 –  In and near the Dallas city limits, several freedmen communities arose on the fringes of Dallas.

1876 – A White mob lynched a Negro rapist from the Texas and Pacific Railroad Bridge over the Trinity River bottoms.

1883 – Several public schools are opened for Negro children.

1884 – The Dallas Independent School District is organized. Sixteen White and six Colored teachers conduct classes in six frame school buildings around Dallas, four for Whites and two for Colored children.

1889 – The then-privately owned State Fair of Texas announced the first known “Colored People’s Day.”

1891- Chinese owned 41 laundries in Dallas. Fueled by decades of bigotry, a propaganda campaign was initiated against Chinese laundries by White competitors.

1910 – Before lynching and hangings were outlawed in 1920, the grizzliest display of this racist violence in Dallas took place on March 3rd, 1910, when a White mob threw Allan Brookes, a Negro handyman, from a window of the Dallas County Courthouse on Commerce Street and violently lynched him from the Elks Arch welcome sign.

1911 – Mexican refugees fleeing the Mexican Revolution settled into a neighborhood known as Little Mexico or El Barrio. This neighborhood was the first Mexican enclave in Dallas and grew into a community of small businesses, churches, schools, and community gatherings.

1930 – The Homeowners’ Loan Corporation published maps that labeled (‘redlined’) predominantly Negro and “foreign-born” communities as “risky” for federal mortgage loans, creating a massive barrier for residents to access required capital for homeownership.  

1941 –  Bombs destroyed homes and apartments after Negroes entered all-White South Dallas. Mayor Woodall Rogers promises action.

1942 – The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service interned men, women, and children of Japanese descent as enemy aliens in Seagoville.

1950 – Negro families moving into predominately White communities were terrorized with bombings and house fires, coercing residents to stay in segregated communities.

1953 – As part of a policy to end the protected trust status of all Indian-owned lands, The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs began a “voluntary relocation” program to urban hubs, including Dallas.

1956 – The Underwriting Manual of the United States Federal Housing Administration recommended that highways be used to separate communities by race and ethnicity (which was enacted into legislation in the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956).

1970 – Tasby v. Estes case went to the United States District Court. Eddie Mitchell Tasby, the plaintiff, argued that Black schools were inferior to White schools in textbook quality, libraries, educational services, and facilities. Because of these differences in quality, Black and Brown students were underperforming, which was reflected in test scores.

1973   – A jury convicted Dallas Police Officer Darrell Lee Cain of murdering Santos Rodriguez, a 12-year-old Mexican boy. Officer Cain and Officer Roy Arnold were investigating a burglary at a  gas station. They took Rodriguez and his brother from their home for an impromptu interrogation. Cain shot Santos Rodriguez while conducting Russian roulette on the brothers to force them to confess.

2022 – Jeremy Smith shot three Korean ladies at Hair World Salon in Dallas’ Koreantown with a rifle. He had delusions about Asian people. The Dallas County District Attorney indicted Smith for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as a federal hate crime.

2023 – A gunman kills eight people including four Asians and three Hispanics at an Allen, Texas mall.

There is a long road of healing ahead for our community. A dehumanizing act of violence like Allen’s requires collaborative care and remembering each other’s humanity. My work is focused on educating people about the history of Asian Americans in the Dallas area and ensuring that our experiences are part of the larger narrative about racism. 

– Stephanie Drenka, DAAHS Executive Director

Dallas’ Racial Divide

In their “2023 World’s BEST CITIES” report, Resonance Consultancy ranks Dallas as No. 47 on the list of 100 best cities worldwide. With Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex’s population of 7.3 million, they deemed Dallas as “Big Things Happen Here.”

With a city population of 1.3 million (2022), Dallas is very diverse: African – 24.0%, American Indian and Alaska Native – 0.5%, Asian – 3.5%, Mixed Races – 9.3%, and Hispanic – 42.0%. The racial divide is clearly reflected by housing and income. “Black residents are far less likely than White residents to own their own homes in Dallas.” “Black and Hispanic residents are far more likely to earn significantly less than White residents in the city.”

Dallas continues its racial divide with its wealthy White neighborhoods in North Dallas. African and Hispanic populations are concentrated across the Trinity River and Interstate Highway 30 in South Dallas.  The area is known for its vast poverty,  high crime,  and poor infrastructure.

On August 24, 2022, Dallas City Council adopted a groundbreaking “Racial Equity Plan.” They designed the Plan to help the people of color communities across Dallas in Economic, Workforce & Community Development, Environmental Justice, Public Safety & Wellness.

What’s next

For the future in Dallas, Parbhoo mused, “After this incident, our focus remains on engaging and supporting our community. We are dedicated to providing resources and guidance on ensuring personal safety in the face of such challenges. We understand the profound impact on the mental health of families affected by these incidents. We will continue to amplify the importance of seeking help and support for healing.”

Getting to the root cause of the Allen Mall shooting remains a priority.

“Asian Texans for Justice calls on local law enforcement to exhaust all measures to determine whether the gunman was truly a lone actor or if he worked in concert with other individuals or organizations who aide and abetted these horrendous actions, ” said Lily Trieu, Interim Executive Director of the group.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

1 COMMENT

  1. An important article on blatant historical and contemporary racism in Dallas. Previously part of Mexico at a time when slavery and official racism were illegal in Mexico, white Texans protested revolted and attacked Mexico which led to the US conquering Mexico and taking the northern more desireable half of Mexico in 1848. Texas border patrol was created to catch Chinese crossing Mexican border into Texas.

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