Sheriff's officials say they wrongfully returned a seized gun that a California man later used to kill his ex-wife inside a busy shopping mall last weekend.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office says Wednesday that the weapon seized from Kevin Crane after a 2014 domestic violence arrest should have never been returned.

Authorities say Crane walked into a store where his ex-wife, Parisa Siddiqi, worked inside The Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks and fatally shot her after an argument Saturday. Crane shot himself and is hospitalized.

A judge ordered that Crane's handgun be confiscated after the 2014 incident.

Prosecutors dropped the case, and Crane later obtained a letter from state officials that he was eligible to possess a gun.

The sheriff's department said its staff was unaware of the court order and returned the gun to him in 2015.