Allen gunman signed name with Nazi symbol on security guard application but still got license
The gunman who shot killed eight people and wounded seven others at an Allen outlet mall appears to have included a Nazi symbol in his signature when he applied for a security guard license in 2015.
Records obtained by KERA show that Mauricio Garcia included the “SS” symbol used by a notorious Nazi paramilitary organization known as the Schutzstaffel multiple times on documents for his application to become a “commissioned security officer” in 2015. The records were on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Private Security Bureau.
"There are some excellent law enforcement professionals in Texas," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism. "But unfortunately, there wasn't one looking at this guy's application because there's no way he should have been anywhere near a position of public trust and safety."
KERA reached out to DPS for a comment on Garcia’s signature on his application via email and by phone. The department had not responded before this story was published.
Garcia placed the symbol between is first name and his last. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported Garcia’s posted photos of himself with that same symbol and a swastika tattooed on his body on a Russian social media site.
Levin, who was a New York City police officer, said someone with an SS tattoo or signature is deeply rooted in bigotry.
"This is just incredibly, incredibly, incredibly bewildering that he could pass that without being apparently questioned or having it make a ripple," Levin said.
Levin said that extremists working law enforcement puts public safety at risk. He also said Texas should strengthen background checks for law enforcement applicants.
Records indicate that Garcia passed a background check and had his license renewed more than once.
Garcia said on his application that he had not been found by a court to be incompetent “by reason of mental defect” and had not been diagnosed by a licensed physician “as suffering from a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control or intellectual ability.”
He joined the Army in June 2008 and served for about three months before he was separated from service without completing his initial training. The nature of his discharge from the Army was not disclosed, which is policy.
But according to news accounts, his separation involved “physical or mental conditions.” He indicated on his application that he had not received a “dishonorable discharge, a bad conduct discharge, or any other than honorable discharge’ from the military.
Authorities say the gunman was a neo-Nazi with a swastika and an SS tattoo that targeted the outlet mall for the shooting. But they said he was random in choosing his victims and likely targeted the location — not the victims.
But Levin said his organization suspects extremism played a role.
"We're regarding this as an extremist homicide and one of the worst we've seen," he said.
But Chanda Parhboo, the founder and executive director of South Asian Voter Education, has said the shooting at the outlet mall was a hate crime against Asians and immigrants.
Half of the shooting victims who died were Asian.
Parbhoo says officials need to look deeper into the role hate played in the shooting.
“This is an infection our country must cure,” she said. “Today, I am here to say that hate groups have no home in Texas.”
Collin County has seen a spike in anti-Asian hate. A video of a woman telling a group of South Asian women in Plano to ‘go back to your country’ went viral last summer.
Got a tip? Email Caroline Love at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caroline Love is a Report For Americacorps member for KERA News.
KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.