California store owner charged in errant shooting of girl

Associated Press

San Bernardino, Calif. – A co-owner of a Southern California shoe store who allegedly wounded a 9-year-old girl while shooting at shoplifters has been charged with assault with a firearm, authorities said Monday.

Marquel Michael James Cockrell, 20, was scheduled for a San Bernardino County Superior Court video arraignment in Rancho Cucamonga, a prosecution press release said.

Marqel Cockrell appears at an extradition hearing at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, April 14, 2022.

Other charges include discharging a firearm with gross negligence and carrying a loaded firearm that was not registered to the defendant. It was not immediately known if Cockrell has an attorney to speak on his behalf.

The shooting occurred April 12 at the Mall of Victor Valley in the high desert city of Victorville.

Cockrell chased two shoplifters and fired shots that “instead hit the 9-year-old female victim,” Victorville police said in a statement.

The girl, Ava Chruniak, suffered three gunshot wounds, including two in an arm, said her grandmother, Robin Moraga-Saldarelli. One of the bullets fractured an arm bone.

Police said Cockrell fled and was later arrested in Nevada’s Clark County. He was subsequently extradited and held in custody in California, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said.

Ava was released from the hospital April 14 but will require an operation to repair nerve damage, KCBS-TV reported last week.