It could have been awful. A man opened fire in the parking lot of a crowded mall yesterday in Newport Beach, California. Witnesses described shoppers screaming, running and ducking for cover as Marcos Gurrola fired into the air and asphalt. For some reason, thankfully, his resolve to “vent” didn’t include taking the lives of others.
“Thank God he pointed up,” said Police Chief David McGill, “Luck was on our side.”
Once Gurrola fired about 50 shots, reloading several times, he laid his weapon down and surrendered to two bicycle officers at the scene. He offered no resistance and was taken into custody without incident. His motive? He was “unhappy about a lot in life and decided this was his best way of releasing his tension.” The 42-year-old Garden Grove man was charged with shooting at an inhabited dwelling and is being held on $250,000 bail.
Coming two days after the horrifying shooting in Newtown, the incident caused panic. One person was injured in the ensuing scramble but was treated and released at the scene. The mall was full of holiday shoppers and the parking lot was full. When Gurrola opened fire, people ran into stores and other businesses, many of which kept their doors locked as police investigated.
In Topeka, Kansas the story didn’t have a happy ending. In that city last night, two police officers were shot and killed. They had been responding to a suspicious vehicle report at a central Topeka grocery store. The 22-year-old male suspect was still at large Sunday night. The two officers were identified as 50-year-old Cpl. David Gogian and 29-year-old Officer Jeff Atherly.
Also Sunday night, shots were fired at the Santikos Mayan Palace 14 movie theater in San Antonio, Texas. The gunman shot another man at a nearby Chinese restaurant and the altercation moved on to the theater. An off-duty county officer was there working security and saw the gunman, shooting and wounding him. Both men were transported to the hospital with undisclosed injuries. Once again, it could have been so much worse.
In the wake of last week’s shootings – at the Oregon mall and Sandy Hook school – many Americans are insisting on some kind of action. In his speech in Newtown last night, President Obama said:
“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”
Let’s hope he can make good on that. With our support, perhaps this time he can.