A young security guard on duty. Elementary-age sisters. A brilliant engineer at the start of her career.
They were among the victims of a gunman’s rampage, which left eight people dead Saturday at an outlet mall in a Dallas suburb — the second-deadliest mass killing of 2023. Two days after the shooting at the outlet mall in Allen, Tex., details about the victims began trickling out through their loved ones.
Three of those killed were members of a family who visited the Allen Premium Outlets together: Cho Kyu Song, 37, his wife, Kang Shin Young, 35, and their 3-year-old child, James. A GoFundMe page, which refers to the couple as Kyu and Cindy, says their 6-year-old son is the only family member who survived the shooting. He received care in a hospital intensive care unit after being injured.
Christian LaCour, the security guard, “was tragically killed while protecting the customers and employees of the outlets,” his employer, Allied Universal, said in a statement. A relative described the 20-year-old as “more amazing than anyone would ever truly know,” declining to comment further.
In tears, LaCour’s friend Marisella Mendoza described him as “very funny, very humble, very kind."
”They lost a very kind soul on Saturday," she told reporters at the Allen mall.
Elementary school students Daniela and Sofia Mendoza were at the mall with their mother, officials at the Wylie Independent School District in Collin County said. The sisters were shot to death; their mother, Ilda, remained in critical condition Monday.
Daniela, a fourth-grader, and Sofia, a second-grader, were “rays of sunshine,” Cox Elementary School Principal Krista Wilson said in a message to parents. She called them “the kindest, most thoughtful students.”
Jason Hrozek, who lives next to the Mendoza family, said he would often see the girls playing with their parents in the front yard. “They seemed like super nice people,” Hrozek said.
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Aishwarya Thatikonda was days from her 27th birthday when she went to the mall Saturday with a friend. Leaving her McKinney, Tex., home, she waved to next-door neighbor Lavender Lloyd. She was always friendly like that.
“When we moved in, they were the first to greet us,” Lloyd’s husband, Aaron, said of Thatikonda and her roommates. “They came over while we were unloading the truck and said: ‘Welcome.’”
Born in India, Thatikonda had come to the United States about five years ago in pursuit of opportunities in engineering, said Ashok Kolla, a volunteer for the Indian American nonprofit Telugu Association of North America who was representing the family. Thousands of miles away in India, her parents grew concerned when they couldn’t reach her Saturday.
Kolla drove from hospital to hospital over the weekend, then to the shooting scene, then finally to the medical examiner’s office where, after seven hours of waiting, they learned Thatikonda was among the dead.
“All of us had hoped she was somewhere in the hospital,” Kolla said.
On Monday, he was sorting through the logistics of having her remains sent home to India, trying to help her devastated parents and brother. He said the killing had sent shock waves through the Indian community, which has had sparse experience with the mass killings that haunt the United States.
“This girl had a long way to go, being a brilliant and well-educated kid,” Kolla said. “She had a long way to go.”
Thatikonda was a civil engineer and “a beloved colleague” at Perfect General Contractors, her employer Srinivas Chaluvadi told The Washington Post.
Beyond being hard-working, diligent and sincere, Thatikonda grew to be like family, Chaluvadi said. “She attended birthday parties at my home, we celebrated festivals together, and we had family dinners.”
They last spoke Saturday morning — Thatikonda had offered to pick Chaluvadi up from the airport after he returned from a trip.
“We just completed a big project, and were having plans to celebrate her birthday on the 18th. But destiny had different plans,” he said.
Elio Cumana-Rivas, a 32-year-old Dallas resident, was also among the dead, officials said Monday evening.
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