Authorities ID gunman killed at OC mall

MISSION VIEJO Kirk Christian Knight, 27, was shot Sunday when Orange County sheriff's deputies responded to a robbery in progress at a jewelry store.

"What we do know about Mr. Knight is that he was 27-years-old. He was a resident of Orange County and he was unemployed at the time of this robbery. We also know that he used a semi-automatic pistol capable of penetrating body armor. He had extra ammunition with him," said Sheriff Jack Anderson, Orange Co. Sheriff.

The upscale Orange County mall has reopened after a deadly shooting on Sunday. It was a surreal scene in a city often hailed as one of the safest in America.

The Shops at Mission Viejo was shut down after Knight robbed a jewelry store then got into a shootout with deputies, all while terrified shoppers look on.

Some shoppers saw the actual armed robbery, others heard the commotion from the shootout that took place just outside the mall around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Witnesses say that Knight was wearing a blond wig when he entered the Frederick H. Rubel Jewelry Store on the second floor, where he pulled out a gun and demanded the employees open the jewelry cases for him. At one point he was confronted by an unarmed security guard in the store.

The suspect then ran to the back forcing two female employees to go along with him. They say he was looking for an exit. When he couldn't find one, he ran back out and let the employees go. He took off running through the crowded mall, gun in hand, trying to make his escape with a briefcase full of jewelry

Witnesses described the scene moments before gun fire rang out between the suspect and deputies on scene.

"There was a ton of cops, everybody was kind of wondering around," said George Valencia, witness. "There was this lady running, like, with her kids into the mall, kind of scary. I actually had gone over to pick up my girlfriend from work, so it was kind of scary for me cuz I didn't know what was going on."

"I was coming up Marguerite, coming back from golfing and there were two cars there and then the left hand turn lane into the parking structure there was flares in it and was blocked off," said Darren Bell, witness. "I figured something was going on, but I didn't know. And then as I was coming further up Marguerite there was about six or seven more cops cars coming, whizzing up so I figured something had happened. I got here to work and somebody had said that their daughter had text them and said that there was a shooting there. It's something you don't, seem to happen around here, you know."

All this came to a violent end in one of the mall parking structures. Deputies were waiting for Knight to come out of the mall. They say he started shooting first and they returned fire, striking the suspect.

Knight later died at the hospital.

No one else was injured in the crossfire.

The Orange County District Attorneys office is working to collect surveillance video from inside the mall to aid in their investigation.

Eyewitness News reporters Subha Ravindhran and Lisa Hernandez contributed to this report.


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