Police and witness give contradictory accounts of response to Texas mall shooting
Authorities have publicly denied the eyewitness account of a man who earlier had said he recalled the Allen, Texas, mall shooting scene immediately following the massacre in great detail, claiming he administered aid to victims before police officers arrived.
A gunman opened fire at the outlet mall outside Dallas, killing eight people and wounding seven others on May 6.
Steven Spainhouer, a former U.S. Army officer, said he drove to Allen Premium Outlets after his son, sheltering in place inside the H&M store where he worked, called to tell him that he had heard gunfire on the property.
Spainhouer spoke to a number of media outlets, including CBS News Texas, about the aftermath of the shooting. He claimed in those interviews that he arrived in the parking lot of the outlet mall before first responders, and said he administered aid and performed CPR on people who had been shot. Spainhouer recounted the “carnage” he said that he saw, including a young girl who “had no face” and a young boy covered “head to toe” in blood, who, according to Spainhouer, was hiding beneath the body of his deceased mother.
The Allen Police Department on Friday issued a statement contradicting Spainhouer’s account, saying detectives had “determined that Mr. Spainhouer is not a credible incident witness.”
“Allen Police Department wants to inform the public of discrepancies with statements made by a witness to several media outlets. Following the shooting at Allen Premium Outlets, Mr. Steven Spainhouer of McKinney, Texas gave multiple public accounts of his actions,” the statement read. “Inconsistencies between these public accounts and investigative facts led Allen Police Department to conduct a follow-up interview. During this interview, detectives determined that Mr. Spainhouer is not a credible incident witness.”
According to the police department, “Mr. Spainhouer arrived between 3:44 and 3:52 p.m. and was not first on the scene, nor was he on the property while gunfire was occurring.” The department also said that Spainhouer “did not perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or administer first aid” and “did not move a deceased mother who was covering a live child.”
“As inaccurate reports can be prevalent in such situations, it is essential to confirm information before sharing it,” police said in Friday’s statement. “Please take note of this to prevent unintentional spreading of misinformation.”
Officials previously said the shooting occurred at about 3:36 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, in the parking lot outside of the H&M store at Allen Premium Outlets. The gunman, who police identified later as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, was “neutralized” about four minutes later, at 3:40 p.m., by an officer responding to an unrelated incident in the area. That officer called for backup after initially hearing gunfire, according to authorities.
Garcia was fatally shot outside of the Fatburger restaurant in a different section of the mall. The Allen Police Department confirmed law enforcement was on scene at the shopping center and investigating in a tweet posted at 4:22 p.m.
Spainhouer told CBS News Texas over the weekend that he stands by his account of the mass shooting in Allen. He also defended his story in a statement posted to Facebook early on Saturday morning, saying he was “hurt and disappointed” after seeing the Allen Police Department’s press release.
“First of all, I have never said I heard gunshots at the Allen Outlet Mall. When I arrived at the H&M store, there was one person there asking for my help,” Spainhouer wrote. “If there were other first responders there before I showed up, I would have no way of knowing it. If the Allen Police were at the mall before me, I would have no way to know it, because they were not at the H&M Store location where most of the shooting victims were located.”
“I know what I did and did not do while waiting on the Allen Police and Fire Departments. I know that there were individuals who were deceased and could not be treated with CPR. I know because I was there,” the Facebook post continued. “I did not move any victims, except the first one I found to check on her. A small child pulled himself from under a victim and I assisted him to a safe space away from the area.”
Spainhouer said he arrived at the outlet mall “between 8 minutes and 16 minutes after [his son] Freddie’s” call,” based on the estimated arrival times given by the Allen Police Department.
“I didn’t see a police car or ambulance for another 5-6 minutes, even though I asked for help using a witness cell phone. That’s a little over 20 minutes since the shooting started, that victims lay injured or dying in front of H&M Store,” he said.
“Instead of targeting me on what I did or didn’t do, perhaps the Allen Police can explain why it took 20 minutes to get to the front of the H&M store, where there were injured victims, if they were already on site, before I got there.”
The Allen Police Department has not shared a response to Spainhouer’s statement.