Anti-Asian hate likely motivated US shooter who killed Korean American couple and son

Posted on : 2023-05-11 17:20 KST Modified on : 2023-05-11 17:20 KST
The shooter’s activity on social media suggests a belief in white supremacy
Visitors shed tears at a memorial set up at the site of the shooting that killed eight in Allen, Texas, on April 8. (AFP/Yonhap)
Visitors shed tears at a memorial set up at the site of the shooting that killed eight in Allen, Texas, on April 8. (AFP/Yonhap)

Anti-Asian hate appears to have been behind a mass shooting that claimed the lives of eight people, including three members of a Korean American family, in Texas on Saturday. The shooting is a tragic reminder of the twin problems of gun crime and anti-immigrant sentiment, two chronic ills in American society.

Local police investigating the mass shooting at an outlet mall in Allen, a suburb of Dallas, said Monday that the gunman, a 33-year-old named Mauricio Garcia, may have been motivated by white supremacist beliefs. Garcia’s activity on social media included posts denigrating Black and Asian people, praising Adolf Hitler, and mentioning a “holy war,” a phrase commonly used by white supremacists who advocate warfare against people of other races.

The jacket that Garcia was wearing at the time of the shooting had a patch that said “RWDS,” an acronym standing for “right-wing death squad.”

Therefore, it’s possible to see Korean Americans Kyu-song and Cindy Cho, both aged 36, and their 3-year-old son, who were all gunned down by Garcia, as being the victims of a hate crime.

Also killed in the shooting were an engineer from India, a security guard, and two sisters, one in the second grade and the other in the fourth grade of elementary school. Their mother, who was also shot in the attack, remains in critical condition.

Kyu-song Cho, who was an attorney, and Cindy Cho, who was a dentist, reportedly immigrated to the US as children. Friends of the family said they’d gone to the outlet mall to exchange an item of clothing their 6-year-old son had gotten for his birthday for something in the right size.

“An afternoon that should have been filled with light, love and celebration unfortunately was cut short by another mass shooting massacre that left 8 victims dead,” said a post on the social funding website GoFundMe that was set up to pay for the family funeral and other expenses.

As of Wednesday, more than US$1 million had been donated to the fundraiser.

The Chos’ 6-year-old son is out of intensive care but is still receiving medical treatment. One witness told CNN that when he rolled over Cindy’s body, he’d found the boy, who told him his mother was hurt. Cindy apparently saved her son’s life by sheltering him with her body.

Garcia reportedly joined the US Army in 2008 but was discharged three months later because of “physical or mental issues.” CNN said that despite that history, Garcia managed to receive firearm training and ended up working for at least three different security companies.

On a social media account, Garcia had posted a screenshot of Google Maps showing the busiest time at the outlet mall where he later carried out the shooting. That suggests his crime was premeditated.

Garcia had two guns with him during the shooting, and five more firearms were found in his parked car.

“Yesterday, [. . .] we witnessed the 201st mass shooting in this country this year,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing on Monday.

“Credible estimates show that more than 14,000 people have died this year from gun violence.”

By Lee Bon-young, Washington correspondent

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