Tony Bommarito with the Orange County Fire Authority, tells PEOPLE. "Unfortunately, it was tragic that five people died on the plane".
The pilot of the Cessna 414 declared emergency before the plane plummeted into the mall parking lot.
The Orange County coroner's office on Monday identified the victims as 53-year-old Scott Shepherd and 42-year-old Lara Shepherd of Diablo, California; 62-year-old Floria Hakimi of Danville, California; 32-year-old Navid Hakimi of Los Angeles; and 29-year-old Nasim Ghanadan of Alamo, California.
No one was hurt on the ground as the twin-engine Cessna 414 aircraft clipped an unoccupied auto, but "fortunately, that person was inside the store shopping at the time of impact", Orange County Fire Authority Capt.
On a breezy morning, Floria Hakimi smiled as her photo was snapped on the steps leading up to a small plane that was supposed to usher her to a workshop for real estate agents in Southern California.
The five people were reportedly taking a work-related trip when the flight took a horrifying turn as it nose-dived into a parked vehicle in a Staples parking lot, instantly killing those on board.
"It just banked, he turned and it just came straight down", witness Alex Perkins said.
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Federal investigators are trying to determine what caused the plane to abruptly crash.
Their plane took off from Concord and was heading for John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac says the twin-engine plane declared an emergency Sunday before crashing about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Orange County's John Wayne Airport.
Navid Hakimi, of Los Angeles, was a musician and a DJ.
"Our entire Pacific Union family is mourning the loss of our colleagues, family and friends", CEO Mark McLaughlin said in a statement.
Fire authorities were called about the crash around 12:30 p.m. local time. "We really didn't think it was a plane at first due to no crashing noise, but as soon as we saw people running from across the street we went to go check it out ..."
The plane was owned by Category III Aviation Corp., a San Francisco-based real estate consulting firm, according to KCBS.