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Advocates plead for action on gun reform as they remember Allen mall shooting victims a year later

Participants plant flags with names of victims of mass shootings during an Allen remembrance rally Sunday, May 5, 2024, at Green Park in Allen.
Yfat Yossifor
Participants plant flags with names of victims of mass shootings during an Allen remembrance rally Sunday, May 5, 2024, at Green Park in Allen.

It's been a year since a gunman killed eight people at the Allen Premium Outlets Mall. And advocates against gun violence in Collin County say they are still waiting more to be done to prevent more mass shootings.

People gathered at Allen's green park. The rally was hosted by the Collin County Moms Demand Action chapter and South Asian Voter Education Fund, which hosted a similar event after the shooting first happened.

Texas state Rep. Mihaela Plesa, who spoke at both rallies, urged supporters to honor the lives lost by voting for candidates that support gun reforms.

“If we would have passed background checks, or maybe even a waiting period, like we have to get a marriage license, we might have been able to stop what happened in Allen,” Plesa said.

Plesa's district includes parts of Allen. Attorney General Ken Paxton recently sued the federal government to block the Biden administration's efforts to close the gun show loophole for background checks.

Alissa Wallace said the impact of the Allen shooting still lingers in the community. Wallace lives in Allen and is the president of the local Moms Demand Action chapter.

“We continue to be stuck in an endless cycle of gun violence that is ripping apart and taking away the futures of our children,” Wallace said.

Gun violence was the number one killer of children in the United States last year according to the Centers for Disease Control. Three of the victims killed at the Allen shooting were children, including three-year-old James Cho.

Most of the victims that were killed were Asian. Several Asian American advocacy organizations have urged law enforcement for the past year to call the shooting a hate crime. The gunman, Mauricio Garcia, had Nazi tattoos and signed his name with what appears to be the “SS” symbol in his application for a security officer license with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Private Security Bureau in 2015.

But Chanda Parbhoo, the founder and executive director of South Asian Voter Education Fund, said she’s still fighting for the impact of anti-Asian hate incidents like the Allen shooting in Collin County to be recognized.

“If we're not there consistently voicing our opinions and asking and pushing for our narrative, then we will be forgotten,” Parbhoo said. “And I think that's one of the reasons that we're having this event is we cannot be forgotten, because when we're forgotten, nothing happens.”

Copyright 2024 KERA

Caroline Love