Mauricio Garcia, the suspect in Saturday’s mass shooting in Allen, Texas, was kicked out of the Army before finishing basic training, the service said on Monday.
“Mauricio Garcia entered the regular Army in June 2008; he was terminated three months later without completing initial entry training,” Army spokeswoman Heather Hagan said in a statement to Task & Purpose. “He was not awarded a military occupational specialty. He had no deployments or awards. We do not provide characterization of discharge for any soldier.”
While Hagan did not say exactly why Garcia left the Army after just three months, an Army official confirmed he was separated under the 2005 edition of an Army regulation that specifies commanders can separate soldiers for “other designated physical or mental conditions.”
Rolling Stone reported on Sunday that an FBI bulletin about Garcia said he was separated from the Army over “mental health concerns.”
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Authorities have accused Garcia, 33, of killing eight people and wounding another seven when he allegedly opened fire at an outlet mall on Saturday.
Garcia was killed by an Allen Police Department officer, CNN reported. At the time of the shooting, Garcia was armed with an AR-15 rifle and pistol and was wearing a tactical vest rigged with multiple ammunition magazines, according to media reports.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, Allen Police Department, Texas Rangers, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and FBI are now investigating the shooting.
Officials have not publicly said what the possible motive for Saturday’s shooting was, but two unnamed sources told CBS News that Garcia was wearing a patch with the letters “RWDS” that may be an acronym for “Right Wing Death Squad,” which has been used by several extremist groups including the Proud Boys.
Garcia is believed to have frequently posted images and writings on social media that supported “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist rhetoric, including neo-Nazi materials and material espousing the supremacy of the white race,” according to Rolling Stone.
The shooting in Allen, Texas, is the latest story about a veteran being connected to a violent incident. Daniel Penny, who served in the Marine Corps from 2017 to 2021 and was promoted to sergeant in the Individual Ready Reserve, is accused of putting Jordan Neely into a chokehold during a May 1 incident on the New York subway. Neely’s death has been ruled a homicide caused by compression of his neck.
Separately, Coast Guard veteran Deion Duwane Patterson was arrested on May 3 for allegedly killing Amy St. Pierre and wounding four women after opening fire in an Atlanta medical facility.
Zack Baddorf, a Navy veteran and executive director of Military Veterans in Journalism, said that media outlets need to keep in mind when covering stories like these that just because someone is one of the more than 18 million Americans who have served in the U.S. military does not automatically make them a trained killer.
“We need to be careful not to perpetuate harmful stereotypes about veterans being violent and unstable, as this not only unfairly stigmatizes those who have served our country, but it also has broader implications for how the public views veterans as a whole,” Baddorf told Task & Purpose on Monday.
He also noted that veterans are a diverse group and should not be defined solely by their military service, Baddorf said.
“Reinforcing these negative stereotypes about veterans damages the broader national narrative around their contributions to our society,” Baddorf said.
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