A gunman chased restaurant customers into the lobby of the Santikos Mayan 14 theater showing The Hobbit in San Antonio, Texas, before opening fire, resulting in two injuries, 1200 WOAI news reported Monday.
The armed man, who had recently been fired from a China Garden Restaurant, entered that establishment at approximately 9 p.m. while the restaurant was closed. Identified as Jesus Manuel Garcia, 19, the man was apparently in search of a woman. Finding she was not there, the man pulled out a .40 caliber Glock 23 and attempted to shoot at staff, but his weapon jammed. Investigators say the man then chased restaurant employees outside. In the parking lot, Garcia apparently fired on a police vehicle, breaking its windshield but failing to hit an officer. He then shot another man in the back.
Garcia then refocused on chasing a terrified China Garden employee into the theater, entering the lobby, where he resumed firing. An armed off-duty officer working security was able to corner the gunman in a restroom and shoot him multiple times before disarming and handcuffing him.
According to Bexar County Deputy Lou Antu, “the officer involved, she took the appropriate action to try to keep everyone safe in the movie theater,” adding that she was responsible for “saving a lot of lives.”
Both the gunman and the victim have been hospitalized. The incident carries chilling and unmistakable similarities to the July 20 rampage at a premiere of Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, carried out by James Holmes, which resulted in 12 deaths and 58 injuries.
Police suspect that in this incident, the shooter was motivated by a recent breakup and was seeking revenge against his ex-girlfriend.
President Obama spoke powerfully of the need for Americans to evaluate the need for change to prevent future tragedies at a somber Newtown, Conn., memorial service Sunday night, saying, “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change.”
However, some critics have poked at the president for not using the word “guns” in his speech. While some will doubtless insist that the president obviously was referring to gun control, it is still unclear what measures his administration will take to curb the rise in mass shootings. A petition was recently submitted to the White House’s We The People page urging the president to pass legislation limiting access to guns, gaining over 144,000 signatures.
Imagine the damage that would have been caused if the shooter had access to an assault weapon, rather than a handgun. Garcia, like James Holmes and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza, never should have been allowed access to firearms.
Like The Atlantic columnist James Fallows outlines, we should emphasize that Americans “have a very powerful, direct, and legitimate interest in the consequences of others’ gun ownership – namely that we change America’s outlier status as site of most of the worlds’ mass shootings.”
Fallows has some interesting thoughts on emphasizing gun safety, rather than gun control. I believe the two go hand-in-hand, and that we can’t have one discussion without having the other. It is becoming increasingly clear that the issue with firearms is not merely safety, but also access. We need stringent measures to ensure that only responsible, mentally healthy Americans may own guns, and we also need to decrease the number of guns in circulation.
And before pro-gun advocates emphasize the heroic take-down by a gun-wielding citizen, maybe we should consider Garcia’s apparent ease in accessing weaponry, and that the shooter was taken down not by a civilian, but a police officer. The score still remains zero take-downs by a concealed carry holder during a mass shooting incident.