– At least 50 shots fired at Fashion Island. Shoppers started screaming and scrambling (The Orange County Register, Dec 15, 2012):
One person is in police custody after shots were fired near the eastern Macy’s store entrance at the crowded outdoor mall. No one was hit by the shots.
Late Saturday, Lowe identified the shooter as Marcos Sarinana Gurrola of Garden Grove. Gurrola doesn’t appear to have a criminal record.
Lowe said the first 911 call was made at 4:35 p.m. She said a 42-year-old white male was in the parking lot firing shots into the air and into the ground. The shooter put the gun down, and was intercepted and arrested without a struggle by two Newport Beach bike officers, Lowe said.
In the parking lot, police focused their attention on a white Honda Civic with an exposed black handgun sitting on its trunk. Six shell casings were on the ground next to the car. A black jacket and Lakers cap were also sitting on the trunk of the car.
One witness said she saw the suspect in a white shirt shooting into the air. He wasn’t aiming at anyone.
“I thought he was joking,” said Laby Shayan. “I thought it was a toy. Oh my God. It was a real gun.”
Witnesses said the shooting was especially scary because the thoughts of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 28 people were killed Friday, were still fresh in their minds.
Hanaa Escatel, who had been Christmas shopping with her 11-year-old son, Robert, said her mind flashed to the horrible images more than 24 hours before.
“I thought of yesterday,” said Escatel of Huntington Beach. “And then I thought Oh my God, it’s happening here.”
Witnesses said they began hearing shots just before 5 p.m. The sound triggered mass chaos and confusion.
Mobs of people ran away from Macy’s. They ducked into clothing stores, the movie theater and other businesses.
Rita Schneider of Northridge was standing in front of a kiosk when she saw people running.
“People started screaming and scrambling,” Schneider said. “The woman who was helping us said, ‘There’s a shooting. Run.’”
Schneider and her husband Larry ran into a clothing store where they were directed into a dressing room to hide.
“It was chaos,” Schneider said. “There was a lot of confusion. People were yelling, ‘Shots fired.’”
Naim Salem, 27, a Fashion Island valet, said he heard the shots.
“You could hear gun shots flying over your head,” Salem said. “After about five minutes, everybody started to rush out of Macy’s.”
Tara Kuhnert, 35, of Newport Beach, was in the Macy’s shoe department when the shooting started.
“People were screaming at the top of their lungs,” Kuhnert said. “They were saying, ‘There’s a shooter.’”
Heather Hurley, a Nordstrom employee, was helping a customer, when she saw a “stampede of people.”
They were “running inside the store and knocking over the cosmetics chairs,” Hurley said. “I could see people crying, and I asked what was going on. They said there was shooting near Macy’s. So we started herding people to the back of the store into a storage room. I was super calm for some reason, but some customers were shaking and others were crying.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Orange County Sheriffs deputies could be seen patrolling the outdoor mall in flak jackets and military-style helmets and carrying rifles.
Robert Escatel, the 11-year-old who was at the mall with his mother said he was quite relieved when they made it out of Fashion Island.
“I’m just glad it’s over. I’m not good at scary situations. I was terrified,” he said.
The suspect was standing next to his vehicle at the time of the arrest and advised officers there was more ammunition in the trunk of his car. As a precautionary measure the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad was called in to remove the ammunition from the vehicle.
During the incident and for a short time following, several stores in Fashion Island secured their doors as a precautionary measure, however most stores remained open throughout the evening.The investigation is continuing at this time. Anyone with more information is asked to call Detective Garrett Fitzgerald at 949-644-3781. The sound of the shots are captured in this YouTube video.