A 14-year-old girl who was fatally shot when Los Angeles police officers opened fire on a suspect in a clothing store has been identified as Valentina Orellana-Peralta by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Police were targeting a suspect in a Burlington store in North Hollywood on Thursday morning when a bullet went through the wall and struck the teenage girl while she was in a dressing room.
The suspect, 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez, was also fatally shot. Online records from the Los Angeles County coroner shows both their autopsies have been completed and that both died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Orellana-Peralta was in a dressing room with her mother when an officer’s round went through a wall and killed her at the scene, police said in a news release. She had been trying on dresses for a quinceañera, a police source confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore called the girl’s death « tragic and devastating » and pledged a thorough and transparent investigation. He promised to release 911 calls, body camera footage and other video of the incident by Monday.
« This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved, » Moore said in a statement. « 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. »
He added: « 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. »
The California Department of Justice is also investigating the shooting.
Officers had responded to a call of an assault with a deadly weapon in progress and other calls about shots fired on Thursday morning, the LAPD said. On arrival, officers found an injured woman and encountered the suspect nearby. The suspect was shot and taken into custody.
« Unbeknownst to the officers, a 14-year-old girl was in a changing room behind a wall, that was directly behind the suspect and out of the officers’ view, » the release said. « She was in the changing area with her mother when the officers encountered the suspect and the officer involved shooting occurred. During a search for additional suspects and victims, officers found the girl and discovered she had been struck by gunfire. She was pronounced dead at the scene. »
The shooting has prompted fury, with critics pointing to a pattern of LAPD officers being too quick to draw their weapons.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Nithya Raman tweeted: « Three years ago, in my district, Mely Corado was killed when police fired into a store. Her family will never stop grieving. Nor will all the people who loved Valentina Orellana-Peralta. What changes will this city make to ensure that this never happens again? »
The LAPD « has one of the worst records of police violence and misconduct in the nation, » Samuel Sinyangwe, a data scientist who tracks police violence, said on Twitter.
« More killings, more likely to kill unarmed people, fewer officers held accountable and yet still more heavily funded than almost any other police department in America. »
LAPD officers have shot at least 37 people in 2021, at least 17 of them fatally, according to the Times. The figures are a dramatic rise from the previous two years—27 people were shot and 7 killed by LA officers in 2020, while 26 people were shot, 12 of them killed, in 2019.
The LAPD has been contacted for additional comment.