A young boy has died in his mother's arms in the latest mass shooting tragedy to befall America.
The accused gunman who killed four people and critically wounded a fifth at a Southern California office building on Wednesday (local time) knew all the victims, police revealed overnight.
In a calculated move before opening fire, the suspected shooter chained shut the gates to two entrances, delaying police from getting inside, authorities said.
Among the victims of the “horrific massacre” was a 9-year-old boy who was found cradled in the arms of a woman believed to be his mother, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a press conference.
The woman was the only survivor among those shot. The others killed were a man and two women.
“Our hearts today go out to the victims, and I’m here to tell you that we’re going to do everything in our power in the Orange County District Attorney’s office to get justice for these families,” Mr Spitzer said. That includes the death penalty.
The suspect in the California shooting was identified as 44-year-old Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, of nearby Fullerton.
He was critically wounded and it was unclear if he was shot by police.
Accused gunman knew Orange shooting victims
Unlike recent mass shootings in the country that have made global headlines, this was not a random act of violence, authorities said.
Police said Gonzalez knew all the victims either personally or through business. They said the precise relationships were still being determined and no names of the victims have been released.
The shooting occurred about 5.30 pm Wednesday in a two-storey building that houses a variety of businesses in Orange, southeast of Los Angeles.
Police received multiple reports of gunshots and officers were on the scene almost immediately, according to police spokesperson Lieutenant Jennifer Amat.
Gunfire could be heard as officers arrived. They fired at the suspect from behind the fence until the gates could be cut open.
Once inside they found the victims and wounded gunman. The incident was over within several minutes, Lt Amat said.
Children in the office due to pandemic
Police said the alleged shooter apparently targeted the office suites of a company called Unified Homes, a mobile home brokerage. Paul Tovar told KTLA-TV his brother owned the company.
“He’s not answering his phone, neither’s my niece,” Mr Tovar said while anxiously waiting outside the building Wednesday night.
“I’m pretty scared and worried... right now I’m just praying really hard.”
A person who worked in the building told the Associated Press that since the pandemic began, parents would often bring their children to work.
Tim Smith’s home is separated from the office’s carpark by a backyard wooden fence.
He was in the back of his house when he heard a volley of three gunshots, then a volley of three and a final volley of four.
“The first words I heard after the shots were fired were ‘Don’t move or I will shoot you’,” Mr Smith, 64, recounted on Thursday morning.
Mr Smith said he heard that repeated twice more by a man’s voice and believed it was a police officer speaking.
He did not hear other voices or more shots. He later peeked over the fence and saw SWAT officers marching in a line in the building’s courtyard.
“It saddens me so much,” he said.
“A senseless loss of life.”
The violence in Orange was the third major mass shooting in just over two weeks in the US.
Last week a gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Boulder, in the US state of Colorado, and killed 10.
Orange is about 48 kilometres from Los Angeles and home to about 140,000 people.
The shooting was the worst in the city since December 1997 when a gunman armed with an assault rifle attacked a California Department of Transportation maintenance yard.
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