- At least nine people were killed after a mass shooting at an Allen, Texas, mall on Saturday.
- WFAA-TV reported that some of the victims may include children.
- Rep. Keith Self told CNN that prayer is “powerful” for families devastated by mass shootings.
A Republican congressman representing Allen, Texas — where a mass shooting with at least nine victims occurred on Saturday — said people who don’t believe in the power of prayer following a violent incident aren’t believers of an “almighty God” after he was asked what his response would be to people who feel prayers are not the solution to mass shootings.
Authorities responded to a shooting at Allen Premium Outlets — a mall near Dallas, Texas — around 3:40 p.m. Allen Fire Department Chief Jonathan Boyd said in a press conference that seven people were found dead at the scene, while two more died after they were transported to area hospitals. Seven others were also injured, according to the fire chief. WFAA-TV reported that some of the victims could include children.
During an interview with CNN, Rep. Keith Self called for prayer in light of the mass shooting, which included injured victims as young as 5 years old.
When a CNN reporter asked what his response was to people who feel “prayers aren’t cutting it,” the congressman said, “Well, those are people that don’t believe in an almighty god who is absolutely in control of our lives.”
“I’m a Christian. I believe that he is,” Self said.
—Acyn (@Acyn) May 6, 2023
Self also said he wanted to avoid making the tragic incident political but then pointed to the violence in “big cities” after being asked if he was concerned about the rise of violent incidents across the US.
The congressman said he was “absolutely” concerned with increasing violence in the country and mentioned Chicago — a city with a population of 2.697 million where crime spiked in 2022 — as an example while stating Allen was a “very safe area.”
According to Census data, Allen, a suburb about 25 miles north of Dallas, has a population of 106,874 and had one reported homicide in 2020.
“Any time there is violence, whether it be in one of the big cities — riots or trashing of stores in Chicago — or shootings like this. This is a very safe area. This is not usual. I know that we hear about the numbers of deaths in Chicago. This is not usual in this area,” Self said. “So I’m certainly concerned about this.”
—Acyn (@Acyn) May 6, 2023
Republicans have repeatedly turned to crime in America as a platform talking point, framing it as an issue specific to large, Democratically-run cities.
While overall homicides increased domestically in 2020, an analysis by Third Way, a public policy think tank, found that murder rates are higher in “Trump-voting red states” than “Biden-voting blue states.”
“In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Donald Trump than those won by Joe Biden,” according to Third Way’s report.
A spokesperson for Rep. Self did not return a request for comment.