California store owner shoots shoplifters, police say, but mistakenly hits girl taking selfie with Easter bunny at mall

A Southern California shoe store owner opened fire on two shoplifters, police said, but mistakenly shot a 9-year-old girl about to be photographed with a bunny rabbit. Mall Easter. The store owner fled the state and was arrested in Nevada, authorities said Wednesday.

Marqel Cockrell, 20, was chasing shoplifters Tuesday night at the Victor Valley Mall in the small town of Victorville when he ‘fired multiple shots at the shoplifters’, police said of Victorville in a press release.

“Cockrell’s shots missed the shoplifters and instead hit the victim, a 9-year-old girl,” the statement said.

The girl, identified by family members as Ava Chruniak, was preparing for photos with the Easter Bunny in the mall when the shots were fired, her grandmother Robin Moraga-Saldarelli said. . The girl was injured by three bullets, two of which were in the arm, Moraga-Saldarelli said.

A bullet fractured a bone.

“And that’s the kind of fracture that they can’t fix surgically. She’s going to have to wear a special brace for that, and it’s going to take a lot longer to heal,” she told Fox 11 TV. in Los Angeles.

β€œIt will take some time for the bone to heal and then we will see the extent of the nerve damage, but she is a soldier. She really is a tough little girl,” Moraga-Saldarelli told KNBC-TV .

It’s the third shooting to occur at the mall in just six months, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Deputies responding to reports of gunshots found Ava injured around 6:30 p.m., the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

She was airlifted to a hospital in stable condition, officials said. Shops in the mall were locked and shoppers took shelter inside as deputies searched for the shooter.

CBS reporters speak with one of the shopkeepers who housed the victim’s family moments after the shooting.

“We heard gunshots around 6:30 in the afternoon, so my colleague and I went outside the store to close the doors,” said Jose Carlon, the owner of Stacy’s, an adjacent men’s clothing store. to the photo of the Easter Bunny. opportunity.

Cockrell, co-owner of the Sole Addicts shoe store, was arrested in his car around 9 p.m. in Clark County by Nevada High Patrol, Victorville police said.

He was being held in default of a $1 million bail on Wednesday at the Clark County Detention Center “on an extradition warrant, for attempted murder,” Victorville police said. An extradition hearing was scheduled for Thursday, and prison and court records did not indicate whether Cockrell had an attorney representing him who could comment on his behalf.

“I’m glad they caught him and he will definitely pay for it. I really hope they throw the book at him,” Moraga-Saldarelli told KNBC-TV.

The mall was closed on Tuesday after the shooting and reopened on Wednesday.

Client Terry Lattimore told CBS Los Angeles that she has lived in the area for a long time and has never seen so much trouble as she sees now.

“It was never like this before. We’ve been here 10 years, we’ve never had a problem, and I heard, I think, a couple of weeks ago something happened in there , turn around last night, it happens,” she said. “That’s awful. My heart goes out to the little kid.”

Another customer, Vladimir Ramirez, told the station that more security was needed.

“It’s scary because we see that more often here, a lot of shootings around,” Ramirez said.

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