A man who arrived on the scene of a shooting at a Texas outlet mall before first responders has described the horrors he says will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Eight people died after a gunman opened fire at the Allen Premium Outlets on Saturday afternoon.
The Texas Department of Public Safety identified 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, of Dallas, as the suspect. He was shot dead by an Allen Police officer who was in the area on an unrelated call, police said.
Steven Spainhouer, a military veteran, told CBS News Texas that he raced to the mall after his son called to say shots had been fired outside H&M, the store where he worked.
He said he arrived before any first responders and tried to save lives. He’s not sure if he did save any lives, he told the outlet but knows he lost three people.
“I never imagined in 100 years I would be thrust into the position of being the first responder on the site to take care of people,” he said.
“The first girl I walked up to was crouched down covering her head in the bushes, so I felt for a pulse, pulled her head to the side and she had no face.”
He also came across a child who survived the massacre because his slain mother had been shielding him, he said.
“I asked him if he was OK and he said, ‘My mom is hurt, my mom is hurt,’” Spainhouer said.
“So rather than traumatize him, I pulled him around the corner sat him down and he was covered from head to toe…like somebody poured blood on him.”
What he witnessed will stay with him forever, he said.
“It’s not a situation I would wish upon anybody, it’s just unfathomable to see carnage,” he added.
Another man, Joshua W. Barnwell, also did what he could to help the wounded.
Barnwell had to cut shopping bags and purses from victims “because all they were doing was shopping with their families,” he told Good Morning America.
He also recalled how a woman who had sustained multiple gunshots asked him to help her daughter.
“When I saw the massive amount of blood come out from her when I gave her chest compressions to her back, I knew she was gone,” he said.
Saturday’s shooting was the latest contributing to an unprecedented pace of mass killings in the U.S. this year.
Investigators are looking into whether Garcia expressed an interest in white supremacist and neo-Nazi views as they work to determine a motive for the shooting, according to multiple reports.
He wore a patch on his chest that said “RWDS”—an acronym for “Right Wing Death Squad,” a phrase popular among right-wing extremists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said the shooter wore tactical gear and used an AR-15-style weapon to gun down innocent people in a shopping mall.
“Such an attack is too shocking to be so familiar. And yet, American communities have suffered roughly 200 mass shootings already this year, according to leading counts,” Biden said.
“More than 14,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives, credible estimates show. The leading cause of death for American kids is gun violence.”
He urged Congress to take action, renewing his call for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Biden also urged lawmakers to enact universal background checks, require safe storage of guns, and end immunity for gun manufacturers.
Republicans in Congress “cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug,” he said. “Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough.”