Authorities say the 44-year-old suspect intentionally targeted his four victims — including a 9-year-old boy — and locked the gates of an Orange County building courtyard to prevent their escape.
SANTA ANA Calif. (CN) — Prosecutors have charged the California man accused of killing four people in a mass shooting Wednesday with four counts of murder and two charges of attempted murder of a police officer.
Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, is accused of fatally shooting four people in an Orange County business complex and attempting to murder three other individuals including two officers with the city of Orange Police Department.
Law enforcement began receiving reports of a shooting in progress at the 200 block of West Lincoln Avenue in Orange around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Responding officers arrived at the reported location of the shooting as gunfire was erupting but were unable to access the building because Gonzalez had chained the gates in the building’s courtyard, according to Orange Police Department Lt. Jennifer Amat.
Authorities say Gonzalez shot at two officers, who returned fire and critically injured him.
Police used bolt cutters to break through the locks on the gate. Inside, officers found four victims: two adult females, one adult male and a 9-year-old boy.
The boy died in the arms of a female of unknown relation who was also shot and is now in critical condition at a local hospital, authorities said.
Gonzalez remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
Amat said Thursday the victims were known to Gonzalez and that a “business and personal” connection existed between them.
The suites of the building where the shooting occurred are connected to a local business called Unified Homes, which specializes in mobile home real estate, according to its website.
Authorities on Friday released the names of three of the four victims after notifying their next of kin. They are Jenevieve Raygoza, 28; Luis Tovar, 50; and Matthew Farias, 9.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement he mourns with the families of the victims and acknowledges the risks law enforcement faced during the shooting.
“Our hearts are shattered into a million pieces as the community mourns the loss of four innocent lives, including a young boy, as a result of the horrific events that unfolded Wednesday evening and we pray for the recovery of the sole survivor,” Spitzer said. “The taking of the life of another human being is the most serious of crimes and the slaughter of multiple people while they were essentially locked in a shooting gallery is nothing short of terrifying. We ask our sworn police officers to answer calls for help and race into dangerous situations. Thankfully the police officers who answered the call that day escaped injury.”
Gonzalez faces four felony counts of murder, one felony count of attempted murder, and two felony counts of attempted murder of a police officer.
Prosecutors have also added four felony enhancements of the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, and enhancements of personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, premeditation, the personal use of a firearm, and the personal discharge of a firearm.
Spitzer’s office said in the statement the special circumstances of the multiple murders mentioned in the felony complaint make Gonzalez eligible for the death penalty. California currently has a moratorium on executions, ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019.
The DA’s office is also investigating the Orange Police Department officers’ firing of their weapons during the incident Wednesday.
At an arraignment Friday, Gonzalez’s public defender told Orange County Superior Judge Cheri Pham the defendant was unconscious in the hospital and unable to participate in the hearing.
Pham continued the hearing to April 5, set no bail and remanded Gonzalez to the custody of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.