ORANGE, Calif. - Police said that a gunman locked the gates surrounding the Unified Homes office building in the city of Orange on Wednesday night, trapping the victims inside before going on a shooting rampage that left four people dead including a 9-year-old boy.
The suspect, Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, of Fullerton, was charged Friday with four counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and two felony counts of attempted murder of a police officer.
Gaxiola was also charged with four felony enhancements of the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, one felony enhancement of the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, one felony enhancement of premeditation, one felony enhancement of the personal use of a firearm, and one felony enhancement of the personal discharge of a firearm.
Prosecutors are also alleging the special circumstance of multiple murders, making Gaxiola eligible for the death penalty.
His arraignment was initially scheduled for Friday afternoon but was rescheduled for Monday because he remains unconscious at the hospital.
Authorities said the shooting was "not a random act of violence" and that the suspect knew the victims through business and personal relationships, which was likely the motive behind the shooting. Authorities did not elaborate on his relationship with the victims.
The shooting was centered around the office building of Unified Homes, which specializes in the sales of mobile and manufactured homes.
Police said they obtained footage from a surveillance video from inside the office building that shows the suspect inside the building, but investigators did not release the video.
Surveillance video captures suspect Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez inside Unified Homes office building in Orange, police say. (FOX 11)
Authorities said that Gaxiola arrived at the office building, located at 202 West Lincoln Avenue in a rental car which was later discovered in the parking lot. The suspect was believed to have been living out of a motel room in Anaheim.
The Orange Police Department first received a 911 at 5:34 p.m., the caller told authorities that a man was shooting into a business across the street. The first responding officer arrived at the location at 5:36 p.m. as shots were actively being fired.
Responding officers found that the front and back wrought iron gates had been locked from the inside, with a bicycle-type cable lock, which meant they were not able to get onto the premises in order to get to engage the suspect.
"In the meantime, a horrific rampage was going on in offices and people were dying or were being shot," said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.
Shots continued to be fired, and two officers engaged the suspect from outside of the gate.
At some point, a police sergeant arrived at the scene and used bolt cutters to cut the locks.
Upon entry, officers located the suspect in the outside courtyard, who sustained a gunshot wound and took him into custody. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition. It remained unclear whether he was shot by police or the wounds were self-inflicted.
Officers located a deceased 9-year-old boy in the courtyard, who was being embraced by a woman also suffering from gunshot wounds.
"It appears a little boy died in his mother’s arms as she was trying to save him during this horrific massacre," Spitzer said, but he later clarified that he was unsure of the relationship between the boy and the woman.
The woman was transported to the hospital in critical condition, police said. On Thursday afternoon, she remained in critical but stable condition.
When officers searched the business complex, they found three other deceased victims. An adult female victim was found deceased upstairs on an "outdoor landing," an adult male was found dead inside one office building and another adult female was found dead inside another office building.
Investigators recovered a semi-automatic handgun, and a backpack containing handcuffs, pepper spray and ammunition, believed to belong to the suspect.
Spitzer said that authorities are looking into whether or not the child was being abused prior to the deadly shooting.
"We know during the pandemic that child abuse and elder abuse were underreported significantly because individuals in those frameworks were staying at home," said Spitzer. "In this case, we have a child who is deceased, and I want to know, and I want to take into consideration, whether there were any issues of child abuse in the past because that may or may not be relevant to the particular case."
"Across the nation, we’re obviously seeing a lot of pent-up frustration from being locked down during the pandemic. But let me make something clear: Just because you now have had relaxed standards in your community and you have pent-up frustration, that doesn’t give you permission, obviously, to go out and act in a way like this because you have pent-up anger and frustration," he added.
California Governor Gavin Newsom called Wednesday's shooting "horrifying and heartbreaking."
"Our hearts are with the families impacted by this terrible tragedy," Newsom tweeted.
California State Senator Tom Umberg (D), who represents parts of Orange and Los Angeles Counties, said on social media that he and his wife Robin were "devastated" to hear about the shooting.
"Robin and I are devastated to hear about the shooting in Orange. My staff and I will be monitoring the situation as new information becomes available," Sen. Umberg said on Twitter.
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, whose district includes Orange, tweeted that she was "deeply saddened by reports of a mass shooting in Orange County, and I'm continuing to keep victims and their loved ones in my thoughts."
Wednesday's shooting was the third mass shooting in the United States since March 16, according to The Violence Project, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based research center known for its mass shooter database. The organization defines a mass shooting as one where four or more victims are killed with firearms -- not including the offender or offenders -- in a public location, such as a workplace, school or restaurant, when the perpetrator or perpetrators selects the victims somewhat indiscriminately. The definition excludes domestic shootings, gang-, drug- and organized-crime-related shootings.
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A gunman shot and killed eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, at three spas in the Atlanta area March 16. A man shot and killed 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado on March 22.