A day after a gunman fired more than 50 bullets outside a Newport Beach mall and on the heels of a mall shooting in Oregon and the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, shoppers came out a little nervous but undeterred.
A 42-year-old licensed security guard from Garden Grove was arrested on Saturday afternoon after allegedly firing shots into the ground and air in the parking lot of the Fashion Island mall during a crowded night of pre-Christmas shopping.
The shooting sent shoppers sprinting and ducking for cover, while others nervously caught the incident on video. Residents, already reeling from Friday’s mass shooting at a Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, said they were shocked that another spate of violence could break out so soon and at another mall.
“I would like to see more security people walking through the mall, maybe even with guard dogs,”said Phylis Paxton-Crowell, of Newport Beach. “It's frightening. It's scary because you think it's so secure, but we are really not.”
Judy Foster, of Newport Beach, echoed the sentiment.
“Maybe seeing some more officer's there in uniform would be helpful to deter some of these people,” she said.
Police arrested 42-year-old Marcos S. Gurrola in connection with the shooting near the Macy's department store at the open-air mall. Police said the suspect paused to reload several times before putting the gun down and offering no resistance when bicycle officers arrested him around 4:30 p.m., said Lt. John Lewis.
"He just gave up," Lewis said.
Investigators have no motive, Lewis said.
Gurrola was booked into custody on suspicion of shooting at an inhabited dwelling. He was being held on Sunday on $250,000 bail. Police recovered a handgun and ammunition, authorities said.
Officials said one person suffered a minor injury while running away, and was treated at the scene.
The gunfire caused panic, coming a day after a gunman killed 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school, and days after a deadly mall shooting in Oregon.
The mall, near Pacific Coast Highway in the heart of Newport Beach, was crowded with holiday shoppers and the parking lot was full. Many people ran into stores, a movie theater and other businesses.
"It's a miracle nobody got injured," said Sven Maric, who said he was celebrating his wife's birthday at a restaurant patio about 50 yards away. "The bullets had to land somewhere, and he shot so many."
Some stores voluntarily closed their doors and kept shoppers inside while police investigated.
Bret McGaughey, 22, of Laguna Beach, said he was with his mom in the Apple store when shoppers ran to the rear of the store as employees locked the front entrance. He estimated that up to 100 people stayed in the back of the store for about 30 minutes until Apple employees announced that police said it was safe to reopen the doors.
Gurrola has been a licensed security guard since 2009, state records said. His firearm permit expired in 2001, according to the Orange County Register, which cited state records.
Gurrola doesn't appear to have a criminal record, the newspaper said.
A telephone number for a Marcos Gurrola was disconnected.
On Tuesday, a gunman at an Oregon shopping mall killed two people and wounded a third amid a holiday crowd estimated at 10,000 people. Clackamas County authorities are still trying to determine why the gunman opened fire before killing himself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.