Arizona Mall shooting suspect in court Thursday afternoon

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA (CBS/AP) — A 20-year-old gunman who opened fire at a suburban Phoenix restaurant and retail complex, injuring three people, wanted to target people in his own age group in retaliation for being bullied, authorities said Thursday.

The shooting rampage occurred Wednesday night after suspect Armando Hernandez scoped out Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, returned to his car to make a social media video and loaded three rifle magazines, police said.

“I’m going to be the shooter of Westgate 2020,” Hernandez said in his Snapchat video, holding a beer in one hand. The footage also shows an AR-15-type rifle in the backseat of the car.

“Let’s get this done, guys,” he said.

Hernandez later surrendered, telling detectives that he intended to harm 10 people, though it’s unclear why he chose that number.

“He wanted to gain some respect, and he felt that he had been bullied in his life,” Glendale police Sgt. Randy Stewart said.

Police say Hernandez filmed the attack while holding a cellphone with his left hand and blasting away with the rifle in his right hand.

The first two victims were shot outside a restaurant. As the gunman moved through the complex, police said, he fired shots to intimidate people before shooting the third victim.

Hernandez surrendered without incident to one of the first officers who arrived at the complex adjacent to the stadium where the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals play.

The Westgate retail district is closed off as law enforcement officers gather Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. Police say one person is in critical condition and two others were injured in a shooting near the shopping and entertainment district west of Phoenix. A Glendale police spokeswoman said Wednesday that the suspect was taken into custody safely. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Authorities say Hernandez wounded a 19-year-old man, who remained hospitalized in critical condition. A 16-year-old girl was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. A third victim, a 30-year-old woman, did not require hospitalization.

Hernandez, who lives in the neighboring suburb of Peoria, could face more than a dozen felony charges. It was not immediately known if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

It’s not yet clear how many shots were fired. Investigators say Hernandez moved around the complex during the attack, leaving spent shells in different spots.

“Armando stated multiple times he wanted to do this mass shooting for respect and spoke of interest in previous mass shootings that have occurred in recent years,” police said in court records.

Bystander video posted on social media showed people running from the area and embracing after being reunited.

Eliana Rivera, a sales associate at a pottery painting store, posted on Twitter that she and a co-worker heard police running and helicopters overhead as they huddled in the back of the business, the Arizona Republic reported.

“It’s just unreal,” Rivera said. “You see it on the news. It happens and you never really think that you would be put in that position. You just think, ‘What are the chances that that will happen?’ — and it did.”

State Sen. Martin Quezada was in his third floor home at Westgate when shots rang out and the power cut off after gunfire struck an electrical transformer.

From his window, he saw people running, then a man appeared to be reloading a gun while walking calmly toward his building. When he went outside, he saw two people laying in the street crying out in pain.

“To be honest, I don’t think a lot of it has really settled in yet about what I witnessed and what actually took place out there,” Quezada said.

Police and Glendale, Arizona officials held a news briefing Thursday:

“Evil acts like this have a very, very fearful and paralyzing effect-that’s if we let them. And I’m asking all of you, please don’t give into fear. Don’t allow, don’t allow senseless acts like this to change your habits,” said Glendale Mayor Jerry Weirs.

Hernandez made his initial court appearance late Thursday morning. The lawyer representing Hernandez said he does not appear to have any criminal history.

Hernandez is facing more than a dozen felony charges right now, and more could be coming.

  • Three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
  • Three counts of aggravated assault-serious physical injury
  • One count of criminal damage-deface
  • One count of recklessly damaging property of utility
  • Five counts of discharge firearm in city limit
  • One count of disorderly conduct with a weapon

“This is his first contact with the legal system,” he said, also pointing out that he has family and “significant ties” to the community.

The lawyer for the state referred to what Hernandez allegedly told police.

“This wasn’t a gun accidentally going off,” he said.

“Mr. Hernandez had the purpose of taking out his expressed anger at society …. He wanted these people to feel the pain he feels on a daily basis. He suffers from extreme anger. … There isn’t a scenario where the community would be safe with the defendant out of custody,” he continued.

The judge set a cash-only bond of $1 million, which the prosecutor requested, and the defense called “utterly ridiculous,” and scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 28.

The Westgate Shopping Center was buzzing with activity Wednesday night on May 20 when the shooting happened. People were enjoying reopened stores and restaurants that had been shut because of coronavirus restrictions for more than a month.

The Westgate Shopping Center is part of a complex that includes arenas for Cardinals football and Coyotes hockey.

Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report as well as CBS News.

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