The gunman who opened fire at a Dallas-area shopping mall, killing eight people and wounding several more, was forced to leave the military 15 years ago due to mental health issues, including his difficulty coping with change. stressful, according to two US officials.
After the gunman, Mauricio Garcia, entered basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., in June 2008, army officials were concerned about his mental health early on and said he also had adjustment disorder, officials said. . An adjustment disorder is characterized by significant emotional distress and is a common mental health disorder among active duty service members.
Garcia, then 18, was supposed to be training to become an infantryman but was kicked out after three months without completing the training, officials said. He was retired before receiving rifle training, according to officials.
While in the military, Garcia never publicly communicated a threat or participated in a crime, and officials say at the time they believed they had no requirement to notify authorities of their concerns.
More details about Garcia’s brief military stint emerged after the Army said Monday that he had been «fired» without completing his initial entry training due to a physical or mental condition.
He was never sent to or received any awards, said Heather Hagan, an Army spokeswoman.
«We do not provide characterization of any soldier’s discharge,» he added.
What motivated Garcia, 33, to bring multiple weapons, including an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun, to the Allen Premium Outlets in Allen on Saturday afternoon and shoot shoppers indiscriminately remains under investigation. Among those killed during the roughly four-minute rampage were a 3-year-old boy and his parents.
At a news conference Tuesday, federal and state officials said the shooter had no criminal record and could legally purchase the eight firearms that were recovered at the scene. Officials were reviewing the weapons’ records to determine if they had been used in other crimes.
Hank Sibley, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said investigators are looking into Garcia’s separation from the military and information about his «fitness for duty» will be forthcoming. Sibley added that Garcia had been working as a licensed security guard for various companies, but he had not been active recently.
Garcia’s apparent mental health problems and extremist beliefs were shared on the Russian social network OK.ru, which he had been using to document his life. The posts did not have any likes and were not shared by other users.
In the weeks leading up to the attack, Garcia posted more than two dozen photos of the Allen Premium Outlets and surrounding areas, including several screenshots of Google’s location data, apparently monitoring the mall at its busiest times.
Sibley said the shooter had targeted the mall, but not a specific type of person based on who was killed.
The social networking site is part of what investigators are looking into, a senior law enforcement source said.
Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are also looking at evidence seized at two locations in Dallas: Garcia’s family home in a northeastern neighborhood and a hotel north of downtown where he had been staying.
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were tracking at least four weapons found at the scene, a law enforcement source said, including five weapons found in his vehicle.
Electronic receipts posted to the shooter’s social media account appear to show that he spent more than $3,200 on three types of firearms last June through a Dallas gun dealer.
Evidence that has been gathered suggests the shooter subscribed to a «hodgepodge» of ideologies, said a law enforcement official familiar with details of the investigation. But the official warned that it could take agents weeks or months to analyze the information to get a more complete picture of his ideology.
An officer killed Garcia at the scene. Authorities said he was wearing a chest patch with the initials «rwds,» which stands for «Right Wing Death Squad,» a popular meme among far-right extremist groups.
On social media, Garcia’s account included a photo of himself wearing a bulletproof vest with a «rwds» patch and another post with a series of shirtless photos showing visible white power tattoos, including SS Rays and a swastika.
Other posts included hate-filled rants against Jews, women and racial minorities, and referred to extremist online forums, such as 4chan, and content from white nationalists, including white nationalist provocateur Nick Fuentes.
In a final post, dated Saturday, the day of the shooting, Garcia lamented what his family might say, writing that no psychologist could have cured him.