Shooting Suspect Remains in Jail; Despair Over “Circumstances in His Life” Could Be Motive

posted: December 16th, 2012 09:26 am | 0No Comments

UPDATED to add statement from a spokesman of The Irvine Company.

A man suspected of firing 50 shots in the air in a Fashion Island parking lot on Saturday afternoon remains in jail today with bail set at $250,000.

Marcos Sarinana Gurrola, 42, was arrested after police say he stood by his white Honda in the Macy’s parking lot and fired a handgun repeatedly into the air while horrified shoppers fled; read our earlier story here.

Gurrola reportedly had several 10-round magazines with him and would fire ten shots and reload.

“He had loaded magazines, and he kept firing and reloading,” said Deputy Chief David McGill. “It was unbelievable.”

Two Newport Beach police bicycle officers and two motorcycle officers arrived minutes after the shooting was reported just after 4:30 p,.m. Gurrola had set down the gun and was arrested without incident, police said.

McGill said Gurrola apparently never aimed the gun at anyone, and that his motive might have been to express despair. He said rumors were untrue that Gurrola was shooting as part of a protest against calls for tighter gun control after the shootings Friday in Connecticut that killed 20 young schoolchildren.

“He was not getting anywhere,” McGill said. “He was just mad at circumstances in his life.”

Sheriff’s online jail records indicate that Gurrola’s occupation is a patrolman, and McGill said a private security guard uniform was inside his car. Online records state that his next court appearance will be Tuesday. McGill would not confirm reports that Gurrola may have been living out of his car, although he said he had no listed home address and that the car was filled with personal items.

Witnesses described a frantic scene after seeing the shots fired, or hearing store announcements about the incident. Many stores were locked down, with shoppers hiding in restrooms or dressing rooms, frantically texting or using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with loved ones.

McGill said the first officers at the scene described the situation as eery.

“It was a calm, routine day and all of a sudden — boom,” he said. “It makes your hair stand up on end.”

The bicycle officers “were like salmon swimming upstream” as they tried to get to the shooter, McGill said.

“It was a sea of human beings running away from the scene, and my officers were running to it,” he said.

More police officers quickly arrived at the scene, McGill said, and began a search of the entire parking lot as well as floor-by-floor searches of Nordstrom and Macy’s, looking for victims. In the end, just one woman sustained minor injuries while running to safety, and no one was shot. Bullets fired into the air can cause injuries or damage, sometimes a great distance away, he said, but he was not aware of any reports of such damage.

The Newport Beach Police Department issued a Nixle alert about the shooting at 11:08 p.m. McGill said the delay was because of staffing issues on a weekend night.

“It’s a valid criticism,” he said, adding that department officials would consider allowing dispatchers to issue community alerts in the future.

In a statement emailed Sunday morning, Irvine Company spokesman Mike Lyster said, “We are thankful no one was hurt in Saturday’s incident, and want to commend the Newport Beach Police Department, the center’s staff, merchants and guests for their responsible handling of the situation. We thank Newport Beach Police for their immediate and thorough response, and continue to work with them in their investigation. The security and enjoyment of our guests, retailers and employees is always our top concern, and we expect today to be a normal, busy holiday shopping day.”

Fashion Island and all of its stores are open today, his statement said.

Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

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