ORANGE, Calif. (KTLA) — Police on Thursday said the gunman who opened fire at an Orange office complex Wednesday afternoon is a 44-year-old man who knew the victims and had locked the gates of the office complex before the shooting that killed four people, including a 9-year-old boy.
When police arrived at the scene of the active shooting at 202 W. Lincoln Ave., they couldn’t get into the courtyard because the gates had been locked from the inside, Lt. Jennifer Amat with the Orange Police Department said during a Thursday news conference.
“It appears the suspect used a bicycle-type cable lock to secure the gates from the inside, on both the North and the South sides of the courtyard,” Amat said. “Two officers engaged the suspect from outside of the gates, and an officer-involved-shooting occurred.”
When officers forced their way inside, they found a 9-year-old boy dead with a wounded woman who was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
“It appears that a little boy died in his mother’s arms, and she was trying to save him during this horrific massacre,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. Police later said the relationship between the woman and child is still being confirmed.
The gunman, identified as Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez of Fullerton, was also found wounded and taken into custody.
The victims were not named as officials work to notify their next of kin. They include one man, two women and the child, who was described as being the son of one of the victims who worked at the business.
“The preliminary motive is believed to be related to a business and personal relationship, which existed between the suspects, and all of the victims,” Amat said. “It appears all of the adults were connected either by business or a personal relationship, and this was not a random act of violence.”
It remains unclear whether the shooter was struck when police opened fire, or if he sustained a self-inflicted wound. The gunman was listed in critical condition Wednesday.
Investigators recovered several items at the scene, including a semi-automatic handgun and a backpack containing pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition, which they believe belonged to the suspect, Amat said.
“Mr. Gonzalez is eligible for the death penalty. This is a special circumstances case, there were multiple victims,” the District Attorney said. “And we are now presently looking at whether he is locking of the front and back gates constituted a lying in wait, which would also be eligible for death.”
Spitzer said officers had to engage the suspect from outside the gates until bolt cutters were brought to the scene.
“In the meantime, a horrific rampage was going on in offices, and people were dying or were being shot. And that is still obviously under investigation,” he said.
The suites where the victims were located were identified as the Unified Homes Business, which sells mobile homes.
“It is a horrible, horrible tragedy that Mr. Gonzalez, made a decision to use deadly force to deal with issues he was dealing with, apparently in his life, but he will suffer and face the consequences,” Spitzer said. Officials didn’t clarify what issues motivated the shooting.
The multi-tenant, two-story office building houses various businesses such as a mental health counseling services office, State Farm Insurance, a financial consulting firm, a legal services firm and a phone repair store.
The shooting, which took place on both levels of the building, was the worst in the city since 1997, Amat said Wednesday.
Check back for updates on this developing story.