Police: California Mass Shooting Suspect Targeted Victims, Prevented Their Escape

The mass shooting at a two-story office complex in the city of Orange, California, on Wednesday night left four people dead, including a young child.

Unidentified people comfort each other as they stand near a business building where a shooting occurred in Orange, Calif., Wednesday, March 31, 2021. Police say several people were killed, including a child, and the suspected shooter was wounded by police. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

ORANGE, Calif. (CN) — Police in Southern California said Thursday the suspected gunman in a mass shooting that occurred the night before intentionally targeted his four victims — including a 9-year-old boy — and locked the gates of a courtyard to prevent their escape.

A spokesperson for the Orange Police Department told reporters the suspected gunman, identified as 44-year-old Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, used a semiautomatic weapon to fire into the windows of a building before entering and fatally shooting four people.

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, according to Orange Police Department Lt. Jennifer Amat. Officers engaged Gonzalez and shot him a number of times, critically injuring him. 

At the building, authorities found three victims; two adult females and one adult male. The 9-year old victim 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.

None of the victims have been identified and a motive for the shooting has not yet been established. The suspected gunman is in critical but stable condition at an area hospital.

Amat told reporters there was a “business and personal relationship” between the four victims and Gonzalez, who she said prevented the victims’ escape by locking gates in the building’s courtyard.

The suites of the building where the shooting occurred are connected to a local business called Unified Homes, Amat said.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told reporters Thursday his office may pursue the death penalty.

“One of the things I’ll be looking at is deciding whether Mr. Gonzalez is eligible for death or life without the possibility of parole,” Spitzer said in a press conference, adding that he’s currently declining to share whether Gonzalez has a criminal history.

Officials with the Orange Police Department said Wednesday’s shooting is the city’s deadliest since 1997, when a former Caltrans employee killed four workers at a maintenance yard and was later fatally shot by police.

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce, took to Twitter on Thursday to post her reaction to the shooting.

“Horrified at the shooting in Orange County that killed at least 4 people, including a child,” Roybal-Allard tweeted. “Every mass shooting we see confirms the dire need for legislation to #EndGunViolence. I urge my colleagues to consider common sense measures to prevent similar horrendous, tragic events.”

Orange County Democratic Party chairwoman Ada Briceño said in a statement she mourns with the families of the victims and calls on lawmakers to do more to prevent future shootings.

“We stand with — and many of us are among — those who suffer the constant dread of gun violence in our homes, schools, places of worship, workplaces, parks — everywhere,” Briceño said. “While mourning yesterday’s shooting, we remain in mourning for victims in Atlanta and Boulder. Let’s call it what it is: gun violence is a plague in America. Until we treat gun violence as a public health crisis, we will keep harming our communities through inaction.”

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