ALLEN, Texas – There are hundreds of people who were at the Allen Premium Outlets on Saturday who came out alive but scarred.
Families were fleeing the gunfire, hiding to protect their children.
Geoffrey Keaton says his first instinct was to protect his daughter when gunfire broke out. He says those first few minutes were hectic and uncertain.
“Ever since we heard there was a shooter, the first thing I did was make sure my little girl was safe. She’s 16,” she said.
Keaton was with his 16-year-old daughter eating at the Fatburger across the parking lot from where the shooting occurred when gunfire erupted.
“People were running and yelling outside. Where I was, yelling out was pretty awful in the sense. As the moments went on, the hits got louder and for me, the hits got closer,” he recalled. “Fatburger’s manager decided to let us all into the back. So we all ran into the back. And once we got into the central area, all the doors were sealed.”
It was there that he took refuge on the spot with other customers, waiting and praying to get out alive. His main priority was to protect his daughter, Annika.
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“Where we were sitting inside the restaurant, there was a metal counter directly to my left,” Keaton recalled. “I just shielded her under the counter and was trying to be alert. You could hear the gunshots clearly.”
Watchful amid the fear and confusion, Keaton described the nightmare he and his daughter found themselves in. They tried to escape through the Sunglass Hut next to the Fatburger, but were met by Allen police officers. The officers ordered them to raise their hands and lie down on the ground.
“I lay down on top of my daughter to see what was going on. To my left, you could see someone was down. He was wearing full tactical gear with a sidearm automatic weapon on his right side. You could see his shoes. He had Chuck on Taylors, which made me realize he wasn’t a police officer,” he recalled. “I looked back to the right of us along the sidewalk. There were bodies everywhere. People were shooting, leaning against shop windows, trying to hold it together. Some that weren’t alive. I just prayed.”
Keaton said he feels like he’s done all he can do.
“We are here to love and build on love,” he said. “I feel like that would make the world a better place. Because right now, it feels bleak for all of us.”
Though desolate, he still has hope.
Keaton says it’s family and faith that keep him strong and says he’s baffled by the amount of hate we often overlook until it’s right at our door.