I live about 15 minutes away from the Allen Premium Outlets mall, where a deranged shooter went on a killing spree Saturday. Do I shop there often? No. Have I shopped there in the past? Yes.
Sadly, there really does seem to be a mass shooting almost every day now. People scramble for information to try to make sense of these tragedies while talking heads who really don't have a clue feel called upon to pontificate. Including me, it now seems.
As of this writing on Sunday morning the body count stands at nine dead (including the shooter) and seven more wounded. Or not - the news reports vary. Victims range in age from 5 to 61. And there are appalling details that I have no intention of sharing here.
I'd like to say that no one I know was hurt or killed, but I actually won't really know that until the victims' names are released.
Meanwhile, like everyone else, I'm trying to piece together a story based on very incomplete and perhaps inaccurate information. We're told that the shooter was in his 30s and lived with his parents. It was reported that police requested a translator to talk to the shooter's parents, so we can assume that they (and he) weren't "from around here," as we say in Texas. Of course, ascribing any importance to that fact would label me xenophobic and bigoted, so I certainly won't do that. Nor will I speculate on whether the distinctive tattoo on the back of one of the killer's hands might be some sort of gang sign. For all I know, it's just a bar code applied when these lunatics roll off the assembly line.
Neighbors called the shooter "quiet" and "a loner," which comes as no great shock. He frequently wore the clothing of a security guard - but who knows if that was avocation or affectation? Had he worked at the shopping outlet? Was there a reason in his mind for this time, this place, and these people? I don't know. But I feel a need to know, as if an "aha!" moment will tell me how to ensure the safety of family, friends, and myself in the future. Which is a fool's errand; you can't outthink madness and evil.
So my thoughts ramble. I think about the young marine on a subway who took steps to subdue a man threatening violence to others and is now likely facing a charge of murder. And I wonder if this is going to dissuade possible heroes from coming to the aid of others in the future.
I don't want to waste time talking about guns. Guns, when used like this, are terrible tools rather than the actual problem. Mental illness is a problem. Isolation is a problem. Cultural degradation is a problem. The celebration of violence (I'm looking at you, John Wick) is a problem. The orchestrated pitting of one citizen against another is a problem. And our nation's loss of social and spiritual values is at the heart of it all.
In other words, I have nothing new to say and no magical insights. But I can confidently speculate that politics and politicians can have no positive impact on this nightmare. It is the soul of our nation that needs repair and real change will require a cultural shift that I can't even imagine. But I can damn well hope for it.
We know a little more now. The shooter was a 33-year-old Hispanic who was licensed as a security guard between 2016 and 2020 although sources aren't saying if he ever worked at the mall. CNN has predictably reported (in headline-sized type) "INVESTIGATORS PROBE POSSIBLE LINK TO RIGHT-WING EXTREMISM." The "possible link" being an insignia on the shooter's shirt saying "RWDS" which, according to the totally unbiased Southern Poverty Law Center, might stand for "Right Wing Death Squad," a group of bloodthirsty Conservative terrorists whose secret conspiratorial plans have only been thwarted to date because of their taste for matching embroidered polo shirts.
There has also been speculation that the tattoo on the shooter's hand represents the Hispanic "Tango Blast" gang based in Houston, although it is said to also be popular ornamentation for those in the Hip-Hop community.
And Right Wingers, of course.