DALLAS - US President Joe Biden renewed his call for an assault weapons ban and other gun safety measures a day after eight people were murdered at a Texas shopping mall in the latest "senseless" shooting to shake the nation.
Responders, distressed witnesses and police described scenes of panic and horror north of Dallas, where video footage circulating online showed the shooter exiting a sedan in an outlet mall parking lot Saturday and firing with a semi-automatic rifle on people walking nearby.
An officer inside on an unrelated call quickly responded and "neutralized" the shooter at the large facility in Allen, police said.
Twenty hours after the tragedy the identity of the heavily armed gunman had yet to be released and no motive was put forward.
The suspect's body, sprawled on a sidewalk, was one of seven at the mall when more police arrived. Two other victims died in the hospital while "three are in critical surgery, and four are stable," Allen fire chief Jonathan Boyd said Saturday.
Biden released a proclamation Sunday "as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence" in Allen. He ordered US flags be lowered to half staff.
But he also called on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban he helped pass in 1994 when he was a senator, but which lapsed in 2004; ban high-capacity magazines; require universal background checks for gun purchasers, and end immunity for gun manufacturers.
"I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe," Biden said in a statement.
The attack is the latest in an alarming trajectory of deadly US gun violence. Barely a week earlier, a man shot and killed five neighbors in Cleveland, Texas after one of them asked him to stop firing his rifle in his yard at night while a baby slept.
Several Americans have also been gunned down in recent weeks over petty disputes or common mistakes, such as knocking on the wrong door or getting into the wrong car.
Awash in firearms, the country has already endured 199 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-governmental organization which defines a mass shooting as four or more people wounded or killed.
"Too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables," Biden said, as he berated his opponents for inaction.
"Republican members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug," he said. "Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough."