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Students share personal experiences from Allen mall shooting

Officers, family members, others offer resources
Broken+glass+fills+this+view+of+sophomore+Kritkika+Kothas+family+car.+Kothas+sister+took+this+picture+as+she+hid+in+the+vehicle%2C+which+had+been+shot+at+during+the+shooting+at+Allen+Premium+Outlets.+The+shooting+occurred+May+6.+I+didn%E2%80%99t+scream+or+anything%2C+she+said.+I+was+more+frozen.+I+was+sitting+in+the+car%2C+and+I+was+terrified.+I+didn%E2%80%99t+know+what+was+going+to+happen.+
Kritika Kotha
Broken glass fills this view of sophomore Kritkika Kotha’s family car. Kotha’s sister took this picture as she hid in the vehicle, which had been shot at during the shooting at Allen Premium Outlets. The shooting occurred May 6. “I didn’t scream or anything,” she said. “I was more frozen. I was sitting in the car, and I was terrified. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Gun shots rang out through H&M. They sounded like fireworks. Screams pierced the atmosphere. The crunching sound of broken glass traveled from the shooter’s footsteps. Shoppers hid in fitting rooms and crouched behind clothes. Sophomore Yogapriyan Magesh’s mom recognized the truth almost immediately on the afternoon of May 6. With tears streaming down her face, she held her son tight.

With a total of 1,539 mass shootings in the United States since 2021, gun violence has become a pressing and relevant issue in society. The most recent of these incidents was the shooting at Allen Premium Outlets, which occurred Saturday, May 6, at 3:40 p.m.  A mass shooting, according to the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center, is defined as multiple deaths incident where more than four victims are killed with a firearm. The Allen Mall incident left eight dead and several others injured. 

“I wanted to get myself some clothes, so I dragged my mom to that specific mall,” Magesh said. “I got a few clothes to try out and went to the dressing room. They told my mom to wait outside, but for some reason I wanted her to stay with me. A bunch of people started rushing into the dressing room. I was confused, so I asked them what was happening. Everyone was shouting ‘Shooter, shooter.’ ”

Magesh said his dad and sister were also at the mall with him and were in the parking lot, where the shooting had started. 

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“I heard gunshots and a voice said ‘come out,’ but my instincts told me to not go because it didn’t sound like the cops,” Magesh said. “My mom was crying, panicking and hugging me so tight that I couldn’t breathe, but I had to stay brave.”

According to Magesh, the police arrived shortly after and neutralized the shooter. 

“They escorted us, telling us to put our hands in the air and walking backwards,” Magesh said. “While I was exiting, I saw broken glasses and a lot of blood.” 

Sophomore Kritika Kotha had been studying for AP exams at home when she heard about the shooting. 

“When I opened it up (text messages from my family), I saw that the back of our car window shattered and below the picture saying ‘we just got shot,’” Kotha said. “At that moment, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I thought it just occurred on the highway and wasn’t aware that it had happened at the mall.” 

Kotha said she started to panic more when she found out the details of the incident while texting her sister. 

“I searched it up online to see whether it had made it onto the news, but this was within the first five to 10 minutes of it occurring, so none of the articles contained that much information,” Kotha said. “I think it started hitting us a day or two afterward, like, what could have happened if they hadn’t made it out.”

Kotha’s sister, whose parents preferred that her exact name be left out of the article, had been in the back of her family’s car, inches from where the window was shot. 

“When we were in the situation, it was kind of hard to believe at first. It didn’t sound real and didn’t sound like it was actually happening,” Kotha’s sister said. “It didn’t sound like gunshots like how people would usually say that they sounded. They sounded more like fireworks. I didn’t scream or anything. I was more frozen. I was sitting in the car, and I was terrified, I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Kotha’s sister said she hadn’t realized their window had been shot until she looked back. She didn’t tell her parents right away as she said she didn’t want to scare them. Kotha said she would like to see stricter enforcement of gun laws but does not think it will occur at this rate. 

“There have been so many other incidents like this within the past year itself,” Kotha said. “Nothing has changed.”

Sgt. Christopher Reeves, one of the two campus officers at Prosper High School, had not been on the scene during the incident but said he was shocked when he heard the news. 

“I was heartbroken,” Reeves said. “That’s something this close to home you don’t anticipate happening. I had no idea of the fatalities, the situation, who the suspect was, all things going through my mind for sure.”

Reeves said that although safety procedures at school have not changed, the recent incidents have left the officers, administration – and students – on heightened alert. Reeves said he also is tired of seeing mass shooting incidents occurring repeatedly. 

“There needs to be longer wait times, and more thorough background checks should be needed to receive firearms,” Reeves said. “And, while I think that mental health is part of the problem we face, I don’t think it fully encompasses the issue.”

According to Reeves, all citizens also shouldn’t have easy access to military-grade weapons. 

“There’s also sometimes just pure evil in people’s hearts,” Reeves said. “I think stricter punishments and examining gun laws are things to look at.”

Reeves said the No. 1 priority is to keep students safe, and he wants to ensure that everyone is doing their best to maintain security at Prosper. The school is also providing mental health and trauma support for individuals affected by incidents, including mass shootings, aftermaths of the scenarios, and other psychological trauma a student may experience. More information regarding counseling in crisis situations can be found on the Prosper ISD Mental Health page. 

“We just continue making sure we’re monitoring the doors, keeping them locked, looking out for any suspicious cars, you know, things like that,” Reeves said. “Being aware of our surroundings is the most important.

This story was originally published on Eagle Nation Online on May 24, 2023.