Collin County communities stood united Monday night at Memorial Park in downtown McKinney to honor the victims of two separate mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. McKinney Mayor George Fuller was joined by McKinney Council Members Rick Franklin, La’Shadion Shemwell and Frederick Frasier, as well as Plano City Council Members Lily Bao and Shelby Williams. Congressman Van Taylor and Rep. Matt Shaheen were also in attendance.
The suspect in Saturday morning's mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart was identified as Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen. Twenty-two people were killed, and 26 people were wounded in the shooting.
In Dayton, a 24-year-old man opened fire in an entertainment district killing nine people and injuring 27.
Allen police reported limited past contact with the El Paso suspect, and there is no record of contact with the department in reference to him.
“On behalf of all the members of the Allen Police Department our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends of those affected by this tragedy in El Paso,“ the statement said.
El Paso police spokesman Sgt. Robert Gomez said there were up to 3,000 shoppers and about 100 employees in the store Saturday morning due to back-to-school shopping. Allen said the state will potentially pursue murder charges and could be looking at the shooting as a hate crime.
The suspect’s background spanned Collin County as an Allen resident, Plano Senior High School graduate and former Collin College student.
“He grew up just miles from here, raised in our community, surrounded by the values that we share,” Fuller said Monday night. “This tragedy is close to home in a number of ways.”
Fuller said the communities of McKinney, Plano, Frisco and Allen were asked to join in the demonstration of support for the El Paso and Dayton communities, victims and families.
“Lives were ended in an instant, families were ripped apart, mothers and fathers lost children, children lost mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters and friends were taken from each other,” he said. “Imagine, if you will, the loved one you’re with today or maybe the child that is at home if they were such a victim.”
Fuller said the intention of Monday’s vigil was not to raise any political debate and said his hope moving forward is that “the debate is respectful, absent any partisan nonsense and most importantly leads to solutions. But for the next 20 minutes debate is not our purpose here tonight,” he said.
Residents and officials lit candles together one by one, starting with McKinney Fire Chief Danny Kistner and Police Chief Greg Conley.
“Our community is one of many faiths and great diversity, and tonight we’re here at a candlelight vigil, and as we light each candle one with another, let it symbolize our sharing of compassion and love for those victims and their families. Once each candle is lit and we all stand united we will ring the bell 31 times for each of the victims lost in El Paso and Dayton,” Fuller said.
“That’s 31 rings too many, isn’t it?”