More than $2 million has been raised for William Cho, 6, the sole survivor of his family after a mass shooter opened fire at a crowded mall in Allen, Texas on Saturday.
His mother, Cindy Cho, 35, and father, Kyu Cho, 37, were both killed in the tragic shooting, as well as his younger brother James, 3. William was injured in the attack, which claimed the lives of eight people in total, though he has since been released from intensive care.
As of press time, a GoFundMe set up to support William has raised $2.2 million (USD$1.7 million). An update from William’s family revealed that the six-year-old had just celebrated his birthday four days before the shooting.
“Both Kyu and Cindy’s family will use these funds to help William continue the legacy of his parents,” the page reads.
Kyu was a lawyer, remembered by friends as a devoted father and a passionate martial artist, according to NBC News. Cindy was a dentist and a faithful member of her local church community.
Last weekend’s massacre, perpetrated by a gunman who allegedly held neo-Nazi beliefs, has led to an outpouring of support for the survivors, but also grief and distress among Asian diaspora communities.
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At least half of the victims of the Allen mall shooting were of Asian descent.
Authorities believe that Mauricio Garcia, 33, fired at random during the attack, but targeted the Allen Premium Outlet mall in particular, and even researched what time was the busiest: Saturday afternoons.
The attack took place in a suburb of Dallas with one of the fastest-growing Asian American communities in Texas. Residents of Allen told the Texas Tribune that the mall targeted in Saturday’s mass shooting largely attracts Asian shoppers, and it’s common to see people wearing saris and salwars inside.
One resident told the outlet that she and her family no longer feel safe in Allen, and her 10-year-old son even expressed that he was open to moving out of the country.
“We don’t feel safe. I’ve already told my kids we’re not gonna go to any public space for at least a month. We’ll see after that,” said Namrata Sharma, who has lived in Allen for 12 years. “The pain is real. I’m sure I say it for everyone. The tears have not stopped.”
The attack comes on the heels of years of rising anti-Asian hate crimes and rhetoric fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Texas, legislators have even proposed bills to prohibit Chinese citizens from buying property. A watered-down version of the law was eventually passed following backlash; it prohibits farmland from being sold to Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Russian citizens.
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A Washington Post report revealed that the Allen mall gunman had fantasized about race wars on a Russian social media platform in the weeks leading up to the attack.
The posts contained “violent, hateful references that included singling out Asians with slurs,” the report reads.
An Associated Press review of Garcia’s online activity shows he displayed a fascination with white supremacy and mass shootings, which he described as sport. Photos Garcia posted showed large Nazi tattoos on his arm and torso, including a swastika and the SS lightning bolt logo of Hitler’s paramilitary forces.
Garcia also had a patch on his chest when police killed him that read “RWDS,” an acronym for the phrase “Right Wing Death Squad,” popular among right-wing extremists and white supremacy groups.
The shooting was the latest attack to contribute to the unprecedented pace of mass killings this year in the U.S. Just over a week before, five people were fatally shot in Cleveland, Texas, after a neighbour asked a man to stop firing his weapon while a baby slept, authorities said.
— With files from The Associated Press
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