Nevada police have captured the man who is accused of shooting a 9 year-old girl at Victor Valley Mall. Investigators claim he shot at two shoplifters, but wound up striking the girl.
Family members confirmed Wednesday that the young girl is doing well.
A good Samaritan came to her aid and is now speaking out with the girl’s grandmother.
A family release a photo of Ava Chruniak, 9, in her hospital bed after she was shot multiple times Tuesday night while waiting in line to take pictures with the Easter Bunny at Victor Valley Mall.
The little girl was visiting the Easter Bunny in Victorville at the time she was hurt. Beverly White reports for NBC4 News on Tuesday April 12, 2022.
“She has three gunshot wounds. Two are in the arm down here, and one is up here and this one fractured the bone,”Robin Moraga Saldarelli was her grandmother.
Moraga-Saldarelli claims that Ava went to the mall in victor valley with her sister, Madeline, and her brother. Natalie, Ava’s mother wanted Easter photos. But suddenly, gunfire erupted just a few yards away. Natalie is deaf.
“She can hear a little bit out of one ear, and to her she thought it was a bomb,” Moraga-Saldarelli said. “The bullet that struck Ava in her lower arm, missed Madeline by approximately an inch.
According to her, Natalie bravely grabbed all four of her children and ran for safety in the chaos.
“And then we heard like four gunshots. We went to the front to close the doors and people started going to the back of the store,”Carlon, Stacy’s employee at the clothing store, said. He did not want to be identified further.
He captured the scene and said that Ava and her relatives ran to the back storage space.
“She was sitting down and we had some towels over her so she wouldn’t see the blood and get too scared, and we just told her, ‘you are going to be OK, you’re doing really good,'” Carlon said.
Paramedics raced Avato to the hospital. Sheriff’s investigators claim that they quickly learned who had shot the gun.
According to the shoplifters, two shoplifters were set on fire by the co-owner at Sole Addicts, a shoe store located in the mall.
“His shots missed the intended target which were two suspects running out of his store with merchandise and struck the 9-year-old victim,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff Public Information Officer Gloria Huerta.
Investigators claim that Marquel Cockrell (age 20) was the accused shooter. He fled the scene immediately, but officers discovered him later.
“He was spotted on the freeway near state line. Nevada authorities took him into custody without incident,”Huerta said.
“I’m glad they caught him and he will definitely pay for this. I really hope they throw the book at him because you can’t go shooting in a mall especially when there’s a lot of children in there with the Easter Bunny,”The grandmother of the victim said it.
She explained that Ava’s recovery will take a long time and her family can now be focused on her.
“It’ll be awhile before the bone heals and then we will see the extent of the nerve damage, but she’s a trooper. She really is a tough little kid,” Moraga-Saldarelli said.
Cockrell is currently being extradited to California. His bail has been set to $1 million