Accused Fashion Island shooter

A police car blocks the entrance to Fashion Island following last year's shooting. (Kevin Chang / Los Angeles Times / December 15, 2012)

A man who is accused of opening fire from a Fashion Island parking garage during the height of the Christmas shopping season last year allegedly targeted the center because "rich people" shop there.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing Monday in which Marcos Gurrola, 42, was ordered to stand trial for aggravated assault and shooting at an occupied building.

The Garden Grove man is accused of firing 54 shots from a Glock semiautomatic handgun from a parking structure near Macy’s at the Newport Beach shopping center last Dec. 15, the day after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

In addition to charges tied to the December shooting, prosecutors said Gurrola faces 10 counts of negligent discharge of a firearm after he allegedly fired 10 shots, also at Fashion Island, in November 2011. Police said they connected him to the 2011 shooting while investigating the incident in December.

Gurrola has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During the preliminary hearing, Newport Beach police Det. Garrett Fitzgerald testified that Gurrola told him he had been upset the day of the shooting about not receiving money he had anticipated from the state and had written checks that he knew were going to bounce.

"He said firing the gun made him feel better," Fitzgerald said.

The detective said Gurrola told him that he selected the Newport Beach shopping center because "that's where the rich people were."

Gurrola had a firearm permit and was trained to use the gun while he was working as a security guard, his attorney said.

Although no one was shot, a woman shopping with her 4-year-old daughter was injured while fleeing to safety, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Mestman.

Gurrola's attorney attempted to have the two charges related to the victim and her daughter dropped, alleging that Gurrola did not directly cause their injuries, but Judge Joy Markman denied the motion.

"The defendant set this whole thing in motion," she said. "He generated a mass panic."

Gurrola will be arraigned in Orange County Superior Court on Dec. 9.

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hannah.fry@latimes.com