Authorities say they've arrested the owner of a shoe store for opening fire on shoplifters at a Victorville mall that instead hit an innocent 9-year-old girl.
The. The shooting prompted several stores to go on lockdown, and employees were told to shelter in place as deputies searched the mall for the gunman.
The girl was taking pictures with the Easter Bunny when she was hit by the gunfire. She was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where was in stable condition.
According to San Bernardino County Sheriff's officials, 20-year-old Marqel Cockrell – the co-owner of a shoe store called Sole Addicts – was identified as the shooter. Investigators say Cockrell, who lives in Adelanto, had chased two shoplifters out of the store, and fired multiple shots at them. The shots missed the shoplifters, and instead hit the girl.
The girl and her family hid in a store immediately after the shooting, and an employee who was with them says she was remarkably calm. She.
The shooter fled the scene, but Cockrell was found at about 9 p.m. by Nevada Highway Patrol and taken into custody. Cockrell is being held at Clark County Jail in Nevada on an extraditable warrant, for attempted murder, in the amount of $1 million.
The mall reopened Wednesday - with the exception of Shoe Addicts - but the shooting was still fresh in the minds of shoppers and employees. Shopper Terry Lattimore said she has lived in the area for a long time and has never seen as many problems as she sees now.
"It never used to be like this. We've been here for 10 years, never had a problem, and I heard, I think, a couple of weeks ago, something happened in there, to turn around last night, this happens," she said. "It's horrible. My heart goes out to the little kid."
It's in fact the third shooting to occur at the mall in just the last six months.
"It's scary because we see this more often here, a lot of shootings around and we need more security," said Vladimir Ramirez, another shopper disturbed by the frequency of the incidents.
CBS reporters spoke with one one of the storeowners who sheltered the victim's family moments after the shooting took place.
"We heard some gun shots like around 6:30 in the afternoon, so me and my coworker went to the front of the store to close the doors," said Jose Carlon, the owner of Stacy's a menswear store adjacent to the Easter bunny photo opportunity.
He said that as they rushed to shut the doors they saw the family running, so they let them inside where they all ran to the back to hide. It was then that he "noticed the little girl was bleeding on her right arm."
They grabbed some towels to cover the wound, since it "helped to cover the blood" since the girl "would get really scared when she would look at it."
He continued to note how brave the victim was, and he's glad that she's recovering now.
Anyone with information about the shooting or investigation can contact the Victorville Police Department at (760) 241-2911.
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