Police say gun control supporter not credible witness to Texas mall attack

AP Photo/LM Otero

On the day that a cowardly killer opened fire on mall shoppers in Allen, Texas one of the “eyewitnesses” who seemed ready and eager to talk to any media outlet around was Steven Spainhour. Most outlets referred to Spainhour as a former police officer and veteran, as well as a self-described “gun lover” who is now supporting gun control efforts. At the same time most outlets have ignored his work with the Democratic Party in Texas, which is a pretty good sign that his support for gun control is nothing new.

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Now, however, the Allen Police Department is calling out Spainhour for his description of his own response to the shootings. In a statement released on Friday the department took issue with several of Spainhour’s statements; saying that during the course of their investigation into the mall attack the department has determined that he “is not a credible incident witness.”

“Allen Police Department wants to inform the public of discrepancies with statements made by a witness to several media outlets. Following the shooting at Allen Premium Outlets, Mr. Steven Spainhouer of McKinney, Texas gave multiple public accounts of his actions,” the statement read. “Inconsistencies between these public accounts and investigative facts led Allen Police Department to conduct a follow-up interview. During this interview, detectives determined that Mr. Spainhouer is not a credible incident witness.”

According to the police department, “Mr. Spainhouer arrived between 3:44 and 3:52 p.m. and was not first on the scene, nor was he on the property while gunfire was occurring.” The department also said that Spainhouer “did not perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or administer first aid” and “did not move a deceased mother who was covering a live child.”

“As inaccurate reports can be prevalent in such situations, it is essential to confirm information before sharing it,” police said in Friday’s statement. “Please take note of this to prevent unintentional spreading of misinformation.”

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For his part Spainhour is insisting that his account of what he saw and did on May 6th is accurate, describing himself as “hurt and disappointed” by the police department’s shout-out.

“First of all, I have never said I heard gunshots at the Allen Outlet Mall. When I arrived at the H&M store, there was one person there asking for my help,” Spainhouer wrote. “If there were other first responders there before I showed up, I would have no way of knowing it. If the Allen Police were at the mall before me, I would have no way to know it, because they were not at the H&M Store location where most of the shooting victims were located.”

“I know what I did and did not do while waiting on the Allen Police and Fire Departments. I know that there were individuals who were deceased and could not be treated with CPR. I know because I was there,” the Facebook post continued. “I did not move any victims, except the first one I found to check on her. A small child pulled himself from under a victim and I assisted him to a safe space away from the area.”

Spainhouer said he arrived at the outlet mall “between 8 minutes and 16 minutes after [his son] Freddie’s” call,” based on the estimated arrival times given by the Allen Police Department.

“I didn’t see a police car or ambulance for another 5-6 minutes, even though I asked for help using a witness cell phone. That’s a little over 20 minutes since the shooting started, that victims lay injured or dying in front of H&M Store,” he said.

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Spainhour went on to question why “it took 20 minutes to get to the front of the H&M store” if there were already officers on scene when he arrived. So far police haven’t released a detailed timeline of when police and medical crews reached the victims outside the H&M store where the attack began, so I have no idea if Spainhour’s estimate of how long it took for first responders to get to the scene is accurate, but that information will come out at some point in the investigation and I’ll be very curious to see how his account matches up with the details provided by investigators.

Is it possible that Spainhour was telling the truth and it’s the Allen PD that’s trying to spin things? Sure. We all saw what happened in Uvalde, including the CYA response from law enforcement who waited more than an hour before engaging the killer locked inside a classroom in Robb Elementary. But given the microscope that the Allen police are under, it would be pretty stupid to publicly state that Spainhour isn’t a credible witness if there’s evidence to the contrary. We’ll see how this plays out as more information is released, but based on the account by police it sounds like the media and the public at large should treat Spainhour’s comments with a heaping helping of skepticism and doubt.

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