Nine dead including suspect after shooting at US shopping mall

·3-min read

A gunman has shot and killed eight people and wounded at least seven others at a busy shopping mall in Texas, police have said.

President Joe Biden described the attack as "too shocking to be so familiar" and urged Republican lawmakers to help him ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in a statement released on Sunday morning local time.

He also ordered the flag at the White House to be flown at half-mast at the White House and on all public buildings

The gunman stepped out of a vehicle and began firing outside the Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, a suburb of Dallas, sending hundreds of shoppers fleeing in panic.

He was "walking down the sidewalk just… shooting his gun outside," an eyewitness told local ABC affiliate WFAA TV.

"He was just shooting his gun everywhere for the most part."

Maxwell Gum, a 16-year-old shift worker at Wetzel's Pretzels, was on his lunch break when a family with limited English ran into the back of his store, urgently saying "Gun! Shoot!" as the sound of gunfire could be heard in the background.

'300 people' poured in

He took the family into a delivery corridor that runs behind the mall's stores, hoping it would be a safe place to hide, but they found chaos.

"There were probably like 300 people pouring in from all the different doors," the teenager said. "People are freaking out, we're hearing screaming."

The gunman, who is believed to have acted alone, was killed by a police officer at the scene, authorities said.

The officer was in the area on an unrelated call when he heard shots being fired at 3.36pm on Saturday, Allen Police wrote on Facebook.

"The officer engaged the suspect and neutralised the threat. He then called for emergency personnel," the department said in a post.

'Unspeakable tragedy'

As yet, there are no confirmed details about the victims, but witnesses reported seeing children among them.

Some said they also saw what appeared to be a police officer and a mall security guard unconscious on the ground.

Allen Fire chief Jonathan Boyd said seven people including the shooter died at the scene, while nine victims were taken to hospital, but two of them died.

Three of the wounded were in critical condition, Mr Boyd said, and four were stable.

President Joe Biden confirmed that the victims included children in his statement.

"Eight Americans - including children - were killed yesterday in the latest act of gun violence to devastate our nation," President Biden said.

"Jill and I are praying for their families and for others critically injured, and we are grateful to the first responders who acted quickly and courageously to save lives."

"Too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables. Republican Members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough," Mr Biden said.

"Once again I ask Congress to send me a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Enacting universal background checks. Requiring safe storage. Ending immunity for gun manufacturers. I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe."

Texas governor Greg Abbott, who has signed laws easing firearms restrictions following past mass shootings, called the attack an "unspeakable tragedy".

He said in a statement that the state was prepared to offer any assistance local authorities may need.