ALLEN — A community left reeling from a mass shooting on Saturday has come together to remember the victims lost and injured in Allen, Texas.
On May 6, a gunman drove into the Allen Premium Outlets parking lot and began shooting at passing shoppers, killing eight and wounding seven others. The shooter was quickly neutralized by a police officer who happened to be nearby on an unrelated call.
Members of the community gathered at the entrance to the shopping center on Monday to grieve and pay their respects, leaving notes, flowers, crosses, and other mementos to honor the victims.
People came and went throughout the day, stopping to comfort one another. At one point, a local pastor could be seen praying with a man. Nearby, two family members wept in front of the makeshift memorial.
“This is much bigger than just Allen, Texas. This is the world we live in, and we have to come together as a society away from the divisiveness, and it all starts with Christ, it has to,” Allen resident Pat Mulady told The Dallas Express.
“It’s a shame that things that happen in Dallas and other cities don’t get the spotlight that this is getting. We have to use this for good, so we have, and I know Allen, this is our call,” Mulady continued. “We didn’t ask for this, but at 3:36, everything changed. That day was going great, we were all having a great day that day, and then in one minute it’s different. … Allen will always be known for this, so we have to use it for good.”
Mulady told The Dallas Express that his son’s best friend works at the shopping center and witnessed the shooting.
“He’s affected by it for the rest of his life, [a] 17-year-old kid. It’s a shame, but it’s a fractured world, and I’m just out here today praying with these guys, and we need to bring Christ back into our world and be bold about our Christianity and try to repair what’s broken,” said Mulady.
An organization called Lutheran Church Charities, a nonprofit group that helps support human care ministries of the Church, brought several of its golden retriever support dogs to comfort people at the scene.
“We’re out of Northbrook, Illinois. They train them, and then they place them in Lutheran churches and schools around the country, so there’s over 100 of these dogs in 27 states,” Rhonda Hampton explained to The Dallas Express. “So that allows us to deploy regionally when we need to for situations such as this.”
Craig Cozier from Sherman, Texas, made the 35-minute drive south to Allen to offer his support for the victims and their families.
“I came down here to pay my respects to the fallen and to the families and to the community. When I say family and community, the community is a family, and we should all act that way,” Cozier told The Dallas Express.
Cozier explained that seeing the residents of the metroplex gather together at the memorial provides solace.
“It makes me feel some comfort because these people are out here paying respects and honoring the lives that have been lost, “said Cozier.
Mulady compared the spirit of the local community to that of Boston after the Boston Marathon bombing a decade ago.
“Just like Boston did after the bombings — Boston Strong. We are Allen Strong,” said Mulady.