A 9-year-old girl was accidentally shot in the arm while she was waiting to see the Easter Bunny at a Southern California mall after a store owner opened fire on two alleged shoplifters who were fleeing the business.
Little Ava was hit by a bullet at Mall of Victor Valley in Victorville on Tuesday evening. Her mother, Natalie, who is hearing impaired, told FOX 11 that she thought there had been a plane crash. She had no idea her young daughter had just been shot.
Officers responding to the shooting around 6:30 p.m. said the shots fired were intended for a pair of shoplifters – not the 9-year-old girl, according to a statement released by Victorville police.
Marqel Cockrell, 20, co-owner of the shoe store Sole Addicts was chasing the shoplifters out of his store when he ‘fired multiple shots at the shoplifters,’ police said in a statement.
A 9-year-old girl, identified as Ava by her family, puts on a brave and happy face despite having been struck in the arm by a stray bullet after a store owner opened fire on two shoplifters
Marqel Cockrell, 20, co-owner of the shoe store Sole Addicts, was arrested and charged with attempted murder after he opened fire on shoplifters in the mall – but instead struck a 9-year-old Ava while she was waiting in line to see the Easter Bunny
The shooting happened at the Mall of Victor Valley in Victorville, California. The mall’s stores were locked down and customers sheltered inside as deputies searched for the shooter
‘Cockrell’s shots missed the shoplifters and instead hit the 9-year-old female victim.’
Ava’s grandmother, Robin Saldarelli, told FOX 11 that the third-grader was getting ready to take pictures with the Easter Bunny when the gunman opened fire, sending shoppers scrambling for safety.
The mall’s stores were locked down and customers sheltered inside as deputies searched for the shooter.
Video surfaced online shortly after the incident that appears to show Cockrell in the mall parking lot getting into a white sedan and driving away, FOX reported.
He was located and arrested in his car a few hours later, at about 9 p.m., in Clark County, Nevada by the Nevada Highway Patrol, Victorville police said.
Cockrell is being held at the Clark County Detention Center with his bail set at $1 million, ‘on an extraditable warrant, for attempted murder,’ Victorville police said.
An extradition hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Ava’s mother, Natalie Moraga, explains the harrowing moment shots rang out at the mall, and the heartbreaking moment when she discovered her child had been struck by a stray bullet
Ava’s grandmother, Robin Saldarelli, told FOX 11 that the third-grader was getting ready to take pictures with the Easter bunny when the gunman opened fire
Natalie Moraga, who is hearing impaired, thought there had been an explosion or plane crash, when the loud shots rang out at the mall Tuesday. She had no idea Ava had just been shot
Ava’s family told FOX 11 that she is recovering from her injuries, but is in a lot of pain and does not understand why she can’t return to school with her friends.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help with Ava’s medical expenses.
‘No little girl deserves this,’ Ava’s mother Natalie wrote on the GoFundMe post.
‘No child deserves this – she was at the mall going for Easter pictures with the bunny she such a sweet loving girl and loves reading her books, she is suffering from 2 gunshot wounds , and her arm is broken!!!!!!!’
Ava is recovering from her injuries, but is in a lot of pain and does not understand why she can’t return to school with her friends, her family said
A GoFundMe has been set up to help with Ava’s medical expenses