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Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Allen, Texas, Attack: Ideological Fuzziness and the Contemporary Nature of Far-Right Violence

The shooting is another example of a racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism incident taking place at a retail location, as opposed to a place of worship, for example.

On May 6, 2023, 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, a man with longstanding neo-Nazi views, murdered eight people and injured seven more in a mass shooting at the Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, Texas, a suburb approximately 20 miles north of Dallas. A policeman shot him dead at the scene before he could cause further bloodshed. It was the second mass shooting in Texas in little over a week and the sixth in the state this year. It is, at the time of publication, the second deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2023.

Mauricio Garcia dressed in black for the attack and wore body armor with numerous magazines attached to its chest rig. He had affixed a patch that read “RWDS”—an acronym for “Right Wing Death Squad”—to his body armor alongside two “Punisher” motifs. Although he was dressed in quasi-paramilitary garb, Garcia had little military experience. Aged 18 in June 2008, Garcia had entered basic training as an infantryman at Fort Benning but was expelled after three months due to concerns about his mental health. The Army discharged Garcia before he could receive rifle training, and so it is unclear whether prior military experience was a factor in the lethality of his attack. Although Garcia had little military experience, his social media posts and diary entries indicate that he regularly visited firing ranges to practice discharging his weapon.

Garcia planned his killings for some time. He extensively researched his target, Allen Premium Outlets, and posted numerous photographs of the building and its parking lot on his Odnoklassniki (OK) (a Russian social media site that translates to “classmates”) profile on April 16, 2023. These posts included screenshots of Google geo-location information—indicating he had previously visited the mall on May 14, 2022, January 7, 2023, and April 15, 2023—and another screenshot showing the mall’s busiest times and an indoor map of the facility. This approach was similar to that of the Buffalo, New York, shooter, who also conducted extensive research on his target (a supermarket frequented by Black patrons) prior to his attack and utilized Google’s “popular time” feature to select the best time to carry out his attack. The Allen, Texas, shooting is another example of a racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism incident taking place at a retail location, as opposed to a place of worship, for example. Large retail locations are becoming one of the preferred soft targets for those seeking to carry out a mass casualty attack.

On the day of the attack, Garcia posted a short video of himself on YouTube wearing a “Scream” mask, which he then removed. “Not quite what you were expecting, huh?” he said on the video. An ardent white supremacist, Garcia was also of Hispanic heritage. Twenty-four minutes before the shooting, Garcia reportedly emailed a rock singer links to his YouTube and OK profiles. This deviates from other extreme right-wing mass shooters, who tend to post their propaganda content and manifestos on image boards and mainstream social media sites.

Read more at CTC Sentinel

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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