Store owner to be returned to California in girl’s shooting

Posted at 8:09 PM, April 14, 2022 and last updated 7:50 PM, July 14, 2023

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Southern California shoe store owner accused of shooting and wounding a 9-year-old girl when he opened fire at shoplifters agreed Thursday to be returned from Nevada to face charges in the case.

Police have said that Marqel Cockrell, 20, fled from the California desert city of Victorville in his car just after the girl, identified by family members as Ava Chruniak, was mistakenly hit by bullets on Tuesday as she waited to have her picture taken with a mall Easter bunny.

Marqel Cockrell appears at an extradition hearing at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, April 14, 2022. Police say Cockrell, a Southern California shoe store owner opened fire at two shoplifters but mistakenly shot a 9-year-old girl about to have her picture taken with a mall Easter bunny. He fled the state and was arrested in Nevada.(Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Cockrell, 20, stood in court and told a Las Vegas judge that he understood that California authorities had 30 days to extradite him. He was not represented by an attorney because Nevada does not provide lawyers for extradition cases.

Cockrell co-owns the shoe store Sole Addicts at the Mall of Victor Valley and was chasing two shoplifters at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when he fired shots that “instead hit the 9-year-old female victim,” Victorville police said in a statement.

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

Police have said that Cockrell drove from the mall before responding officers arrived after receiving reports of gunfire and that he was arrested in Nevada’s Clark County, about a three-hour drive from Victorville.

Cockrell is being held at the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas and authorities have said he faces at least one attempted murder charge. Records do not indicate if he has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.