• Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

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Girl waiting for photo with Easter bunny shot as California shop owner fires at thieves

A Southern California shoe store owner opened fire at two shoplifters, police said, but mistakenly shot a 9-year-old girl about to get her picture with a mall Easter bunny.

The store owner fled the state and was arrested in Nevada, authorities said Wednesday.

Marqel Cockrell, 20, was chasing the shoplifters out of the store Tuesday evening at the Mall of Victor Valley in the small city of Victorville when he “fired multiple shots at the shoplifters,” Victorville police said in a statement.

“Cockrell’s shots missed the shoplifters and instead hit the 9-year-old female victim,” the statement said.

The girl, identified by family members as Ava Chruniak, had been getting ready for pictures with the Easter bunny in the mall when the shots were fired, said her grandmother, Robin Moraga-Saldarelli.

The girl was left with three gunshot wounds, including two in her arm, Moraga-Saldarelli said.