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Authorities identified Mauricio Garcia, 33, and George Alvarez, 34, as perpetrators in two separate mass killings in Texas. Garcia was named in a May 6 mass shooting in Allen and Alvarez was named in a May 7 incident in Brownsville.
Both men are U.S. citizens. Garcia had no criminal incarceration history in Texas, where he was born. Police have not said he was affiliated with a gang. Alvarez, meanwhile, has an extensive criminal history, but police did not confirm whether he was affiliated with any criminal group like a gang.
As officials expect an influx of migrants at the southern U.S. border, some social media users were quick to tie two recent mass killings in Texas to immigration and gangs.
Eighteen people were killed and another 17 were wounded between two incidents one day apart in the Texas towns of Allen and Brownsville.
But a May 8 Facebook post that pegged the perpetrators as being illegally in the U.S. lacked factual foundation.
"Both murderers in Texas were not only illegals, but gang members," the post said, "most likely tied to MS13."
The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The first mass killing occurred May 6 at an outlet mall in Allen, about 25 miles north of Dallas. The gunman, identified as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, opened fire around 3:30 p.m., killing eight people and injuring seven more before he was fatally shot by police.
The second took place May 7 in the border town of Brownsville, where a 34-year-old man, identified as George Alvarez, drove into a crowd near a migrant shelter, killing eight people and wounding 10 others. Alvarez is in custody and faces manslaughter charges along with 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
There is no evidence that either men were in the United States illegally, or that they were members of MS-13, an international criminal gang that originated among Salvadorans in Los Angeles.
Let’s look at each claim.
Garcia, the gunman in the outlet mall shooting, was born in Dallas County in 1989, records from the Texas Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics show.
He was discharged from the U.S. Army in 2008, just three months into his service, for a physical or mental condition — the Army didn’t specify.
He was terminated before completing basic training and was not deployed, Heather Hagan, an Army public affairs spokesperson, said in an emailed statement. To enlist in the Army, someone must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident with a valid green card.
Alvarez is not here illegally, either. He’s a U.S. citizen, the Brownsville Police Department confirmed to PolitiFact.
Little information has been publicly revealed about Garcia and Alvarez, but we found no evidence that either belonged to MS-13.
Garcia had no history of incarceration within the state prison system, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed to PolitiFact’s partners at The Dallas Morning News. He had an active misdemeanor warrant for drug paraphernalia from 2020 in another Texas city, police records show.
Alvarez has an extensive criminal history, police said, but authorities didn’t confirm whether he was involved with any gang. A Brownsville police spokesperson told PolitiFact that a number of people in the area relate themselves to different criminal groups, but whether they are actually members is often difficult to determine.
PolitiFact asked the Texas Department of Public Safety whether Garcia or Alvarez were affiliated with any gang but did not receive a response by publication.
A Facebook post claimed that Garcia and Alvarez were gang members living in the U.S. illegally.
Both men are U.S. citizens, according to records and police. We found no evidence that either belonged to MS-13.
Garcia had no criminal incarceration history in Texas, where he was born. Alvarez has an extensive rap sheet, but police did not confirm whether he was affiliated with any criminal group.
If any additional information emerges, we will revisit, but at this point police did not confirm any evidence of gang affiliation. We rate this claim False.
PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
Facebook post, May 8, 2023
Associated Press, Source: Investigators examine ideology of Texas gunman, May 8, 2023
USA.gov, Requirements to enlist in the U.S. military, Accessed May 9, 2023
PolitiFact, Tracking misinformation about the Allen, Texas, mass shooting and response, May 8, 2023
Email interview, Heather Hagan, public affairs spokeswoman for the U.S. Army, May 9, 2023
Phone interview, Brownsville Police Department public information office, May 9, 2023
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