mall shooting

Victor Valley Mall Store Owner Charged in Errant Shooting of 9-Year-Old Girl

The family released a picture of 9-year-old Ava Chruniak recovering in her hospital room after being shot multiple times Tuesday night as she waited in line for pictures with the Easter Bunny at Victor Valley Mall.

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A co-owner of a Southern California shoe store who allegedly wounded a 9-year-old girl while shooting at shoplifters has been charged with assault with a firearm, authorities said Monday.

Marquel Michael James Cockrell, 20, was arraigned in San Bernardino County Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, a prosecution press release said.

The girl was visiting the Easter Bunny at a mall in Victorville when she was wounded. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

Other charges include discharging a firearm with gross negligence and carrying a loaded firearm that was not registered to the defendant. It was not immediately known if Cockrell has an attorney to speak on his behalf.

He pleaded not guilty on all charges.

The shooting occurred April 12 at the Mall of Victor Valley in the high desert city of Victorville.

Cockrell chased two shoplifters and fired shots that “instead hit the 9-year-old female victim,” Victorville police said in a statement.

Courtesy of family

The girl, Ava Chruniak, suffered three gunshot wounds, including two in an arm, said her grandmother, Robin Moraga-Saldarelli. One of the bullets fractured an arm bone.

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Police said Cockrell fled and he was later arrested in Nevada's Clark County.

He was subsequently extradited and held in custody in California, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office said.

Ava was released from the hospital on April 14 but will require an operation to repair nerve damage.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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