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Girl Killed After Stray Bullet From Police Pierced Wall Of Dressing Room, Where She Was Hiding With Her Mom
Police opened fire on a suspect who was attacking women with a bike lock in a Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood, but one of the rounds struck 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta in the chest.
A teen girl was fatally shot in the dressing room of a southern California clothing store after a stray bullet from police skipped off the floor and pierced the wall.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, was shopping at a Burlington Coat Factory store in North Hollywood with her mother two days before Christmas trying on dresses for an upcoming quinceañera when chaos broke out in the store.
Footage uploaded to YouTube on Monday by the Los Angeles Police Department shows police rushing into the store after they received numerous 911 calls about a man assaulting random people in the store with a bike lock. Orellana-Peralta, her mother, and others had rushed into a dressing room to shield themselves from the violence, CNN reports. Footage showed a man attacking women around the store.
“While en route to the location, officers received multiple radio calls from the same location that there was a possible shooting in progress and that there were individuals sheltering in place,” police wrote in a press release. “As the officers arrived at the location, they began a search for the suspect. During that search, officers located a female who was suffering from various injuries and bleeding.”
In bodycam footage released Monday, one officer appeared worried when he saw a trail of blood leading up to that victim, who was bleeding from the head. Security footage showed the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Daniel Elena-Lopez, allegedly ambushing the shopper as she was perusing through a rack of clothing, pushing a shopping cart.
The officer pursued the suspect and fired three shots from his rifle. As the suspect falls to the floor, the screams of a woman can be heard from elsewhere in the store. Orellana-Peralta and her mother were in a dressing room just around the corner. They had been holding one another and praying, CNN reports.
Orellana-Peralta was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, coroner records show. She was pronounced dead in the store.
"Everyone fled to dressing rooms and, unfortunately, the bullet found her," Valentina's uncle Rodrigo Orellana, told CNN affiliate Chilevision in Chile, where the girl was from. "They're supposed to be the best police department in the world and they shot her."
He added that “the girl's American dream has been taken from her."
Elena-Lopez also died at the scene, a police representative confirmed to Oxygen.com on Tuesday morning. He appeared to have his back to the officer who shot him.
“We do not draw any conclusions about whether the officers acted consistently with our policies and the law until all the facts are known and the investigation is complete,” Captain Stacy Spell, commanding officer of the LAPD's media division said in Monday’s release of footage, adding that they are still in the early stages of this investigation.
The California Attorney General’s Office will be investigating and reviewing the shooting.
"Was the use of the patrol rifle justified?" Anthony Barksdale, a CNN law enforcement analyst asked Monday night, following the release of the footage. "And ... if you're going to fire a (.223) round inside of a department store, those rounds can easily rip through a body and keep right on moving through dry wall. So the use of force must be looked at."
In a press release put out the day of the shooting, Police Chief Michel R. Moore stated that the girl’s death is “tragic and devastating for everyone involved.”
“I am profoundly sorry for the loss of this young girl’s life and I know there are no words that can relieve the unimaginable pain for the family,” Moore stated. “My commitment is to conduct a thorough, complete and transparent investigation into the circumstances that led up to this tragedy and provide the family and public with as much information as possible.”