Hundreds gathered Sunday, May 7, at Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen, Texas, to pray for the victims and families of the mass shooting at the local Allen Premium Outlets mall on the afternoon of Saturday, May 6. The gunman was shot by police after he killed eight people and injured another seven. Many community leaders, including Governor Greg Abbott, joined the group to pray and to support one another.
“Tonight, I joined my fellow Texans in Allen for a community vigil for the innocent lives lost last night and those who are recovering from injuries,” said Abbott. “As this community heals, Texas will be with you every step of the way.”
In an interview following the shooting, Abbott spoke with Fox News Sunday anchor Shannon Bream. “One thing that we can observe very easily is that there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that’s taking place in America,” Abbott said. “And what Texas is doing, in a big-time way, we’re working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health crisis behind it.”
However, during his tenure, Abbott has made a point to slash mental health care funding in the state’s budget. In April 2022, less than a month before the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which claimed the lives of 19 young students and two teachers, Abbott cut nearly $211 million from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), which oversees mental health services in Texas. He and other leaders have also worked to loosen gun laws in the Lone Star state, most notably enacting permitless carry in 2021.
Gov. Gregg Abbott Attends Prayer Vigil for Victims of Mass Shooting
Executive Pastor Scott Sanford began the service by reading Romans 12:15 and the challenge to “mourn with those who mourn.” Sanford said, “Tonight, we’re here to do just that. We’re here to mourn together as a community and to pray together for God to comfort us.”
The service included short messages from several people—many pastors and staff of Cottonwood Creek Church—who spoke words of encouragement, read Scripture, and guided those gathered in prayer for the countless people distraught and impacted by the tragedy. More than 30 local representatives and government officials were recognized during the prayer time, including Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and State Senator Angela Paxton.
As Sanford finished reading the list of elected officials, he addressed the group together to offer his appreciation, saying, “We’re praying for you. We know the weight of the events—like yesterday—weigh on you. You are in our prayers.”
He closed his brief time with prayer. “We seek out your love. We ask for healing for the brokenhearted.”