Originally posted at 11:43 a.m. April 18, 2014. Updated with new details.
A transient who fired more than 50 rounds at a Newport Beach mall on the day after the Connecticut elementary school massacre, sparking a stampede among Christmas shoppers, pleaded guilty today and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Marcos Sarinana Gurrola accepted a plea bargain from Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue over the objections of Senior Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman, who had sought a 25-year prison term for the 44-year-old defendant.
Gurrola drove his white Honda Civic, which he was living in at the time, to a parking lot at the sprawling Fashion Island mall on Dec. 15, 2012, about 4:30 p.m. and fired a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun 54 times, Mestman said.
None of the bullets struck the Macy's department store he fired toward, but investigators found bullets outside a nearby apartment building, Mestman said.
After Gurrola's arrest, the one-time security guard told investigators he opened fire at the mall because "that's where the rich people are," Mestman said.
"It was a very crowded Saturday afternoon with Christmas shopping, plus everyone was on edge because of the Newtown shooting," the prosecutor said, referring to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in which Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and six adults.
A woman and her 4-year-old daughter were injured in the stampede of shoppers trying to leave Fashion Island due to the gunfire, Mestman said. The mother required stitches for a cut on her head and the girl was bruised, he said.
The woman did not want to be in court for the guilty plea today because "she didn't want to relive it," Mestman said.
Gurrola was also suspected of firing 10 rounds at Fashion Island on Nov. 16, 2011, but charges involving that incident were dropped before his preliminary hearing because of insufficient evidence, Mestman said.
--City News Service