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Monday, March 4, 2024

Asian-American civic groups in Texas demand disclosure of motive in deadly shooting, citing possible hate crime

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Asian-American civic groups in Texas have called on the authorities in Texas to publicly disclose the motive behind the mass shooting that occurred on May 6 at the Allen Premium Outlets in the suburbs of Dallas, resulting in the deaths of eight people, including three members of a Korean-American family.

On May 15, community organizations, such as Asian Texans for Justice, Dallas Asian American Historical Society, and SAAVETX Education Fund, held a joint press conference, demanding that the Texas state government and law enforcement agencies promptly reveal whether the shooting had a racial motive.

The organizations expressed concern that more than a week after the shooting, law enforcement officials have been reluctant to release information about the shooter. Some officials have stated that the shooter “appears to have targeted the location, not a specific ethnic group,” which has clouded the true nature of the shooting.

Referring to a previous incident in May 2022 at a Korean-American hair salon in Dallas’ Korean-American neighborhood, where three Korean-American women were injured, the organizations called for a thorough investigation. At the time, the Dallas police initially treated the incident as a random shooting, but two days later, they raised the possibility of a hate crime and eventually charged the shooter with a hate crime.

The shooter responsible for the Allen Premium Outlets attack, Mauricio Garcia, 33, was identified as a neo-Nazi who left numerous diary entries on the Russian social media platform Odnoklassniki (OK.ru) starting in September of last year, according to local media. The account was deleted after the shooting.

In some of the posts discovered before its deletion, Garcia repeatedly referred to his Hispanic heritage, specifically Mexican, and aligned himself with white supremacist ideologies. The account contained hundreds of racially charged posts, and Garcia wore clothing bearing the phrase “RWDS” (Right Wing Death Squad). As a result, both the media and local residents have speculated that the shooting may have been a hate crime.

“The victims included a Korean-American family of three and an engineer from India,” stated Lily Trieu, interim executive director of Asian Texans for Justice. “The comments made by authorities demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of how systemic racism operates.”

Stephanie Drenka, co-founder of the Dallas Asian American Historical Society, pointed out, “Allen and its neighboring cities of Plano and Frisco are home to one of the largest Asian populations, with the exception of coastal areas. The targeted location does not rule out the possibility of a hate crime.”

Chanda Parbhoo, founder and executive director of SAAVETX Education Fund, an organization that works to increase Asian American voter participation, remarked, “Since this incident, people in the community have been living in fear. Children are experiencing nightmares, and parents feel helpless.”

Non-Asian community organizations also joined the press conference, advocating for gun control legislation in the state legislature. The Texas legislature failed to pass a bill that would have raised the minimum purchase age for AR-type semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

BY NICOLE CHANG   [support@koreadaily.com]