Here's what we know about the victims of the Texas outlet mall shooting
By Kelly McCleary and Christina Zdanowicz, CNN
(CNN) -- A young security guard who shared laughs with mall employees and an engineer spending a Saturday afternoon shopping with a friend are among the eight people killed when a gunman opened fire at Allen Premium Outlets in Texas.
At least seven others were injured before the gunman was killed by an Allen police officer who was already at the retail center on an unrelated call, police said.
It is one of more than 200 mass shootings in the US so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which like CNN defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, not including the shooter. People going about their daily lives in schools, parks, grocery stores and medical buildings in communities big and small must now grapple with the trauma and grief that lingers when the shooting stops.
Here's what we know so far about those killed in the Texas shooting:
Daniela and Sofia Mendoza
Sisters Daniela and Sofia Mendoza were both elementary school students in the Wylie Independent School District, according to a letter sent to parents by the district.
Daniela was in fourth grade and her sister was in second grade, the letter said. Their mother, Ilda Mendoza, is in the hospital in critical condition.
"Words cannot express the sadness we feel as we grieve the loss of our students," the letter reads. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mendoza family, the families of the victims, and all those affected by this senseless tragedy."
Cox Elementary School Principal Krista Wilson described the sisters as "rays of sunshine" in the letter.
"Daniela and Sofia will not be forgotten," the letter read. "Hug your kids, and tell them you love them."
The school district says it is not announcing the news to the students and is leaving it up to parents to have that conversation with their children. Counseling services are being offered for students, staff and families, the letter said.
"Please hold the Mendoza family close to your heart. We know in times of tragedy, our community rallies around each other, and we will do all we can to support the family and friends of the precious students we lost."
Christian LaCour was a well-liked security guard at the outlets.
"Christian was a sweet, caring young man who was loved greatly by our family," his sister Brianna Smith told CNN.
The 20-year-old was "the kind of person who would just walk into the store and everyone in the room would light up because he was there," said Max Weiss, a mall store employee.
"Every time he was in the store, it felt safer," Weiss added. "He brought laughter and joy and always knew what to say."
Aishwarya Thatikonda was killed while visiting the mall with a friend, CNN affiliate WFAA reported.
Thatikonda was a few days away from turning 28, Ashok Kolla, a spokesperson with the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) told CNN. The organization helps the Telugu community in the United States.
Family and friends described Thatikonda as a loving and hard-working person who was respected by co-workers, Kolla said.
Thatikonda worked as an engineer, a family representative told WFAA.
She moved to the United States about five years ago to pursue her master's degree, Kolla said.
Thatikonda lived in McKinney, but her family is mourning her loss from their home in India.
The family plans to have her body sent to India, Kolla said.
CNN has reached out to the consulate general of India in Houston for more information.
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