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Suspect in mass shooting at Orange, California, business complex knew the victims, police say

The suspect who police say killed 4 people, including a 9-year-old boy, at an Orange, California, business complex on Wednesday had professional and personal relationships with the victims, police said.

"The preliminary motive is believed to be related to a business and personal relationship which existed between the suspect and all of the victims," Orange Police spokesperson Lt. Jennifer Amat said in a news conference Thursday.

"This was not a random act of violence," she said.

Amat did not identify the victims, saying the notifications of next of kin had not been completed. Among the dead were two women, a man and a 9-year-old boy, she said.

The boy, who was found in the complex courtyard, is believed to be the son of one of the victims who worked at the business, Amat said.

A fifth victim, a woman, was found with the boy. She was taken to a local hospital, where she is in critical but stable condition, Amat said.

Police identified the suspect as 44-year-old Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez. He is also at a local hospital in critical but stable condition, Amat said.

Police first responded to reports of shots fired at about 5:30 p.m. local time, Amat said. When the initial officers arrived, shots were actively being fired inside the business complex.

This undated photo provided by the Orange Police Department shows Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, a 44-year-old Fullerton, Calif., man who is the suspect in a shooting that occurred inside a counseling business in Orange, Calif., March 31, 2021.

The officers were at first unable to enter the building's courtyard because its gates on both the north and south sides "had been locked from the inside," Amat said, "using a bicycle-type cable lock."

Two officers engaged the suspect, she said, and an "officer-involved shooting" occurred.

Police were then able to enter the courtyard and found the suspect, who was injured, and took him into custody. Police had earlier said it was unclear whether his injury was self-inflicted.

In the courtyard police also found the boy and the adult woman who survived.

"It appears that a little boy died in his mother's arms as she was trying to save him during this horrific massacre," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said at Thursday's news conference.

Officers found three other victims elsewhere in the complex, Amat said. One woman was upstairs on an outdoor landing, a man was found inside one office building, and another woman was found in a separate office building.

The suites where some victims were found belonged to a business identified as Unified Homes, Amat said, a real estate business specializing in mobile homes.

Investigators recovered a semi-automatic handgun and a backpack containing pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition, which authorities believe belong to the suspect.

Orange is located about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. The complex where the shooting occurred houses multiple businesses including Farmer's Insurance, Calco Financial and Miller Counseling.

'Horrifying and heartbreaking'

Paul Tovar told CNN affiliate KCBS/KCAL near the scene that he hadn't heard from his brother or his niece, both of whom work in the building.

"I'm just trying to find out his well-being," Tovar said. "He's not answering his phone, neither is my niece. I'm pretty scared and worried. I wish I knew more."

Tovar told CNN later Thursday morning he still had no news of his brother or his niece.

The FBI's Los Angeles division confirmed to CNN it had responded to the shooting as a matter of routine, but the Orange Police Department is the lead investigative agency.

This is at least the 20th mass shooting since the Atlanta-area spa attacks two weeks ago that left eight people dead. CNN defines a mass shooting as a shooting incident which results in four or more casualties (dead or wounded), excluding the shooter.

"I can tell you that we haven't had an incident like this in the city of Orange since 1997," Amat said. "It's just such a tragedy for the victims, their families, our community and our police department."

News of the mass shooting drew immediate condemnation.

"Horrifying and heartbreaking. Our hearts are with the families impacted by this terrible tragedy tonight," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a tweet.

Rep. Katie Porter, a California Democrat who represents Orange County, said she and her staff are monitoring the situation.

"I'm 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 as we continue to learn more," Porter said in a tweet.

California / Crime / Top Stories

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