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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Rachel Hagan & Fiona Leishman

Texas mall shooting survivors hid in closet by hero shopworker as gunman killed 8 in mall

As a gunman opened fire at an outlet mall in Texas, shopworkers did everything they could to keep shoppers safe, including hiding them in back rooms, changing rooms, and ushering them out of back doors.

The gunman, identified as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, killed eight and wounded seven others, thought to include children, after opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle at the Allen Premium Outlets store, on Saturday.

He was then shot dead by an officer who rushed to the scene while attending a nearby call.

Officers investigating the shooting have been looking into Garcia's social medial profiles and posts which appeared to express interest in white supremacy and neo-Nazi views.

Crowds of shoppers were evacuated from various hiding places after the gunman was shot and killed by police (CBS/UNPIXS)

He also reportedly had a patch on his chest when killed by police which read 'RWDS' - an acronym for the phrase 'Right Wing Death Squad' which is popular among right-wing extremists and white supremacy groups.

Eyewitnesses have been sharing their chilling accounts of the massacre, believed to be the second deadliest shooting in the US so far in 2023.

For Racquel Lee, an impromptu shopping trip turned into a nightmare as she found herself stuck sheltering in a bathroom hiding from the active shooter. She recalled how she parked up outside the H&M store, where the shooting began.

As the shots began to ring out, Lee and 12 others were rounded up by a store employee who hid them inside the bathroom closet.

"It sounded like a warzone," she recalled. "It was horrifying and it felt like you were in a dream."

Lee shared how they tried to remain quiet, trying not to be heard crying and praying for fear the gunman would find them and kill them too. She explained how people were trying to call 911, but the calls wouldn't go through.

Racquel and the group were ushered into a bathroom by the unnamed employee, who Racquel said she later saw lying among the victims (CBS News)

"I remember thinking that he's coming in here next, and I was hoping we didn't get hit by a bullet," she said. "Then the store associate saved our lives."

The unnamed employee left Lee and the others, including children, and wasn't seen again until the group were escorted out.

As Lee was being escorted to safety by police, she remembered looking at the mass of "bullets and bodies" outside.

Among them, she said she saw the same store worker who had helped her and others get to safety barely an hour earlier.

Andria Gaither, assistant manager at the Tommy Hilfiger store, said she was at the back of the store on Saturday afternoon when she saw two young girls trying to hide in a dressing room. At first, she said she thought they were just playing.

Then she heard one say shots were being fired.

Gaither looked around and saw customers and the store manager running to the back of the store. Eventually, she and the others ran out the back door of the building.

Hundreds of shoppers evacuated the mall (AP)

"As soon as I got outside the back of the store, you could hear the shooting," she said. "It was so loud. I'd never heard anything like that in my life. It was deafening."

Keith Pickens, 61, works as a supervisor at the Perry Ellis men's store, and explained that he had traveled from Oklahoma City to help manage the Allen location temporarily. He recalled: “I was standing near the front of the store when a lady came in running, saying: ‘It’s a shooting! It’s a shooting!’

"I immediately ran to the front, locked the door. I was shaking locking the door. I was just nervous, shaking."

He said there were 31 customers in the store, and they moved everyone to the stock room in a bid to escape the massacre. "We were there for about an hour until the police officers finally came and escorted us across the street," he said.

One store employee was on her lunch break when the gunfire broke out, she tried to shelter in her car but was unable to unlock it. She called her store manager, who opened the back door so she could shelter inside.

20-year-old Rama Bataineh works at the Coach store, she said: "I went inside, and all the customers, all the employees, everyone was in the back sitting on the floor. Everyone was terrified."

When the shooting finally stopped, the group were escorted out by police. However, upon leaving the store they were met with a grisly scene.

"I saw a body, there was a guy in front of me," she said. "I didn't sleep all night. I'd wake up and throw up."

Another young employee at the mall, Maxwell Gum, 16, was working at a pretzel stand. He recalled how he and other people ended up hiding in a storage room as they heard shots ring out across the outlet mall.

"We started running," he explained. "Kids were getting trampled. My co-worker picked up a four-year-old girl and gave her to her parents."

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