A 14-year-old girl who was shot dead by a Los Angeles police officer’s stray bullet during Thursday’s confrontation with an assault suspect at a Burlington Coat Factory was in a dressing room trying on gowns for a quinceanera with her mother, it has been revealed.
The teen, identified by the coroner on Friday as Valentina Orellana Peralta, was shopping at the Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood before noon when an officer confronted a man who had assaulted a woman earlier.
The cop fired shots at the male suspect, but one of the bullets went through the wall of a dressing room, killing 14-year-old Peralta who was inside with her mother.
Police also killed the male suspect. The woman who had been assaulted was taken to the hospital with moderate to serious injuries. She was filmed lying on a gurney with blood on her face.
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A 14-year-old girl who was shot dead by a Los Angeles police officer’s stray bullet during Thursday’s confrontation with an assault suspect at a Burlington Coat Factory was in a dressing room trying on gowns for a quinceanera with her mother. Pictured: Shoppers are seen outside the store after the shooting
Valentina Orellana Peralta, 14, was shopping for a quinceanera gown with her mother at this Burlington store in North Hollywood on Thursday when she was struck by cop’s stray bullet
Police were called to the scene after getting reports of a man acting erratically
Police say they came upon the male suspecting assaulting a woman and opened fire, killing the man. Pictured: a broken glass door is scene at the Burlington Coat Factory
People are seen sobbing after the deadly shooting that took the life of the 14-year-old
‘It’s just absolutely heartbreaking, and I cannot find words to try to comfort a mother and a family, but I will ensure them and the public and our people that we will conduct a complete and thorough investigation,’ LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
The shots were fired around 11.45am on Thursday. Police initially responded to reports of a person being assaulted with a deadly weapon as well as reports of shots being fired, said Los Angeles police Capt Stacy Spell at a news conference.
Spell said officers opened fire when they saw the suspect assaulting another person.
The suspect was struck by the officers’ bullets and killed, Spell said.
One of the bullets went through a dressing room wall and struck Peralta as she was trying on quinceanera gowns, as Los Angeles Times first reported, citing law enforcement sources.
LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said officers later found the teen’s lifeless body inside the changing room.
‘You can’t see into the dressing rooms and it just looks like a straight wall of drywall,’ Choi said at a second news conference.
Investigators do not yet know whether the teenager was in the dressing room before the violence began or ran in there to hide, he said.
The California Department of Justice was investigating the shooting, Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
Police say the officer who fired the fatal shots did not know Valentine was inside the dressing room behind a wall
A woman wipes her eye as police officers investigate the scene where two people were struck by gunfire in a shooting at a Burlington store )
Shoppers are seen at the scene after the officer-involved shooting, which is now under investigation
No gun was found near the male assault suspect after his killing at the Burlington store
Moore said it did not appear that the officer who fired the fatal shots ‘would have known that there was anyone behind there or that he was looking at anyone other than the suspect and a wall.’
The officer, who has not been named, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which could take weeks.
‘There’s not a police officer in America who would ever want this type of circumstance to occur,’ Moore added.
Choi said authorities do not yet know the suspect’s motive or whether he knew the woman he initially assaulted in the store.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Nicholas Prange said the woman was transported to a hospital. It wasn’t immediately known if she’d been shot but Choi said she had injuries to her head, arms and face.
Police found a very heavy metal cable lock near the suspect that they say may have been used in that assault.
Spell said the injured woman was the victim in the first assault report. It was not immediately clear what weapon was involved in that assault, but no gun was found.
He added that police had received calls about the suspect acting erratically before the incident.
Imelda Garcia said her sister works in the store and was on break when she heard gunshots and everyone started running. Garcia said she spoke to her sister on the phone and that she’s OK but sounded ‘really nervous.’
Police escorted people out of the store nearly two hours after the shooting.
The shooting recalled a July 21, 2018, confrontation in which LAPD officers accidentally shot and killed a woman at a Trader Joe’s market. Officers got into a gunfight with a man who authorities say shot his grandmother and girlfriend before leading police on a chase that ended when he crashed his car outside the market.
A police bullet killed Melyda Corado, 27, the assistant store manager, as she ran toward the store’s entrance after hearing the car crash.
The suspect, Gene Evin Atkins, took employees and shoppers hostage for three hours before surrendering, authorities said.
Atkins has pleaded not guilty to the killing.
Prosecutors found two police officers acted lawfully when they returned Atkins’ gunfire.
Thursday’s shooting comes come as homicide rates have soared 52 percent in the past two years, and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon is under fire for his soft-on-crime policies.
Gascon continues to be called out for a zero-bail policy that some critics say is exacerbating the region’s crime problems by freeing criminals to offend safe in the knowledge they’ll be straight back on the streets after.
At this time in 2019, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded 251 homicides. As of December 18, there have been 382 slayings in the city, representing a 52 percent increase, according to LAPD data.
Homicide rates in LA have skyrocketed over the past two years. At this time in 2019, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded 251 homicides. Burglaries have dipped in recent years
A map shows the locations of some of the major smash-and-grab robberies that have recently taken place in Southern California
Burglaries have dipped over the past few years.
Property crimes are up in California as a whole as well, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
Year-over-year through October, violent crimes spiked five percent statewide, with Oakland up 17 percent and Los Angeles up about one percent, PPIC data shows.
Homicides during the same period rose 17 percent, from 523 last year to 613 as of October. In LA, homicides rose 17 percent, the institute said.
Gascon, one of many progressive DAs bankrolled by billionaire Democrat donor George Soros, has survived one recall effort and faces another that was launched December 6 after he was accused of being soft on crime amid an epidemic of brazen smash-and-grab robberies perpetrated by organized groups of thieves.
During the first week of December, LA police arrested 14 suspects alleged to have been involved in 11 recent smash-and-grab robberies at stores last month, where nearly $340,000 worth of merchandise was stolen in strikes on an LA Nordstrom, a Lululemon in Studio City, a Fairfax district store, and a CVS pharmacy in South LA.
However, due to city’s zero-bail policies, the suspects were all released within hours of being handcuffed and are currently walking the streets while they wait for their cases to go to court.