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Shooting At California Office Building Leaves 4 Dead, Including 9-Year-Old Boy

Authorities are investigating a mass shooting that killed four people and injured one at a business complex in Orange, Calif.
Paul Bersebach
MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Authorities are investigating a mass shooting that killed four people and injured one at a business complex in Orange, Calif.

Updated April 1, 2021 at 3:39 PM ET

The suspect in the Orange, Calif., shooting that killed three adults and one child on Wednesday night is believed to have had a personal and professional relationship with the victims, according to authorities.

Orange Police Department officials said at a Thursday briefing that two adult women and one adult male were killed along with a 9-year-old boy in the attack, and an adult female and the male suspect remain hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

"It appears all of the adults were connected either by business or a personal relationship, and this was not a random act of violence," police Lt. Jennifer Amat said.

Officers responded to reports of gunshots around 5:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET) and determined that shots were being fired in a business complex at 202 W. Lincoln Ave.

They approached the building but could not enter its courtyard because its wrought-iron gates had been locked from the inside, Amat said, adding that it appeared the suspect used a bicycle-type cable lock to lock the gates on both the north and south sides of the courtyard.

Two officers engaged the suspect from outside of the gates in what she described as an "officer-involved shooting" before forcing their way in and taking the suspect, who was injured, into custody.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the officers used bolt cutters to gain entry.

Once on the scene, officers located two victims in the courtyard, and three in separate suites that Amat said belonged to Unified Homes, a mobile home real estate business. Investigators have since recovered from the scene a semiautomatic rifle and backpack containing pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition, which police believe belonged to the suspect.

They identified the suspect as Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, of Fullerton, Calif., and reiterated that the motive is believed to be related to a "business and personal relationship that existed between the suspect and all of the victims." Officials did not release the names of the victims, saying not all of their next of kin had been notified.

Amat said the child is believed to be the son of the surviving woman transported to the hospital. Spitzer said the woman was found embracing the child.

"It appears that a little boy died in his mother's arms as she was trying to save him during this horrific massacre," he said.

Officials stressed that two investigations — of the officer-involved shooting and the one that preceded it — are still in their early stages. They said they are working to learn more about the relationships between those involved and whether the suspect has a criminal history. Spitzer said after examining the evidence, his office will consider pursuing the death penalty or life without parole.

"[The] last major incident of this significance [in Orange] was in 1997," police Chief Tom Kisela said, referring to a deadly shooting at a Caltrans facility. "Thank God, we don't experience these types of incidents often in our city."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted his condolences following early reports of the shooting. He said, "Our hearts are with the families impacted by this terrible tragedy tonight."

Orange is a city south of Los Angeles with a population of around 140,000.

Wednesday's shooting comes after mass shootings last month in Boulder, Colo., and the Atlanta area.

This is a breaking news story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.