Details began to emerge Thursday morning about a mass shooting at an office building in Southern California that left four people, including a nine-year-old boy, dead the night before.
Police said the suspect in the shooting in the city of Orange, south of Los Angeles, knew all the victims through a “business and personal relationship.” A fifth victim was hospitalized in critical condition.
The incident was the third mass shooting in the United States in two weeks, following the attacks in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado.
Authorities said that when police arrived at the two-story office building around 5:30 p.m., the shooting was ongoing and the suspect had used chains to lock the front door. The officers opened fire and were then able to break into the courtyard. There, the police found a nine-year-old boy who had died and a woman at his side who was injured.
“It appears that a child died in his mother’s arms as she tried to save him during this horrible massacre,” said Todd Spitzer, the Orange County district attorney.
The other deceased victims were two women and a man, who were found in the offices of Unified Homes, a mobile home developer. Police said the mother of the nine-year-old boy worked in the business, but authorities have not yet released the identities of the victims.
The suspect was identified as Aminadab Gasiola González, 44. His specific relationship to the business and the victims was unclear. He was injured and taken to hospital in critical condition, although police have not clarified whether officers shot him or whether the wounds were self-inflicted. His exact motives were unclear.
California Governor Gavin Newsom in a tweet called the killings “horrible and heartbreaking.”
“Our hearts go out to the families affected by this terrible tragedy tonight,” he said.
Congresswoman Katie Porter, a California Democrat whose district includes the city of Orange, said on Twitter that she was “deeply saddened.”
“Enough is enough. We have to do something about guns on our streets,” said California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
People had gathered outside the building Wednesday night in hopes of meeting their loved ones.
Paul tovar told KTLA-TV that his brother owns Unified Homes. “He doesn’t answer his phone, and neither does my niece,” Tovar said. “I’m quite scared and worried … right now I’m praying a lot.”
Cody Lev, who lives across the street from the office building, told the Orange County Register that he heard three loud noises that were spaced apart, then three more. There was a period of silence and then Lev said he heard numerous gunshots, followed by sirens and more gunshots.
The killings followed a mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder last week that left 10 people dead. A week before that, six Asian women were among eight people killed in three Atlanta-area spas.
Orange is about 30 miles from Los Angeles and is home to about 140,000 people. Orange Police Lt. Jennifer Amat said the shooting was the worst in the city since December 1997, when a man armed with an assault rifle attacked a California Department of Transportation maintenance yard.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism