Authorities in Orange County said some 50 shots were fired outside a mall in Newport Beach, Calif., during the busy Christmas shopping season Saturday, a day after a mass shooting in Connecticut had the nation in mourning and again debating gun control.
A 42-year-old man was in custody after the sound of gunshots at Fashion Island caused near-pandemonium, according to shoppers. No one was injured, authorities said.
Newport Beach police said the gunman fired some 50 rounds into the air and at the ground in a parking lot outside the Macy's at the upscale mall at about 4:30 p.m. The shopping center was placed on lockdown.
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As mall patrons scrambled into hiding places and shop employees rushed to close doors, officers on bike patrol arrested 42-year-old Marcos Sarinana Gurrola of Garden Grove without incident.
"According to witness statements, we had a male who was shooting a weapon into the air and also at the ground, standing by a vehicle,'' police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe said. "This was an isolated incident. At no time was he observed pointing the weapon at anyone."
Gurrola was being held on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
The incident came a day after a horrific mass shooting Friday at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killed 26, including 20 children. Earlier in the week, a gunman opened fired at a mall outside Portland, Ore., killing two people and seriously wounding a third before killing himself.
Shoppers in Newport Beach said they were on edge.
"Hearing about the shooting with the kids on the East Coast and all this other stuff ... I'm just like, this stuff has got to stop happening," Chance Espinoza said.
Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies in flak jackets patrolled the the mall in the aftermath of the shooting as Newport Beach police focused on a white Honda Civic they said was associated with Gurrola.
Aerial video showed a portion of the mall parking lot taped off with yellow police tape, and evidence markers were placed throughout the area.
Several people at the Nordstrom and other stores told NBC4 that they had been on lockdown. Several said they heard the gunshots.
A YouTube user posted video from the parking lot in which repeated shots can be heard. Patrick Wyrick of Lake Forest told NBC4 he shot the video.
"I couldn't see who was shooting, but I started to take video in the direction the shots came from while standing behind the car you see in the foreground," Wyrick's caption said. "My video catches the last two clips he shot and I could finally see him when he shot off the last clip."
Shopper Joe Rubbinaccio told NBC4 he was on the lowest floor of Macy's when he heard shouting.
"I heard somebody yelling. It sounds like an employee. He was saying, 'Lock the store down!' And he was yelling, 'Don't panic. There's been a shooting,'" Rubbinaccio said. "At that point, you kind of freeze. Your heart skips a beat. ... You just panic, you don't know what to do."
Rubbinaccio said he saw many people running, and others said they had heard 10 to 20 shots. Rubbinaccio got away from the scene safely, and had heard one person had been injured in the rush to escape.
Police stopped releasing details after answering initial inquiries.
There were many accounts on Twitter about a man with a gun at the mall.
"My mom, son, and I are shopping at Fashion Island and we heard gun shots we're hiding in the restroom," tweeted @Jennicake.