The Los Angeles coroner on Friday identified the 14-year-old girl who was shot and killed by police inside a Burlington dressing room.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta died when police opened fire on a suspect just before noon Thursday on the second floor of the clothing store in North Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner.
The suspect, a man who allegedly assaulted a woman, also died in the shooting.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” Police Chief Michel Moore said in a statement late Thursday night. “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.”
Officers were responding to a report of someone being assaulted with a deadly weapon and of shots fired, said LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell on Thursday. Investigators have not found a gun at the scene.
Witnesses told KCBS-TV that the suspect, who has not been identified, began acting erratically, threatening to throw items from the upper floor and attacked a woman with a bicycle lock shortly in the store crowded with holiday shoppers.
Police fatally shot the suspect but one of the bullets went through drywall behind the man and killed Valentina, who was in a changing room with her mother, police said.
The woman who had been assaulted by the suspect was taken to a hospital with injuries to her head, face and arms, officials said Thursday. It wasn’t immediately known if she’d been shot.
The California Department of Justice is investigating the incident and will turn over its findings to the special prosecutions section for independent review, according to Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Police Department plans to release footage from the store’s closed-circuit cameras and police body-worn cameras, as well as radio calls and other information before Monday, Moore told the Los Angeles Times.
Moore said although the investigation will determine what happened, it did not appear the officer who fired the shots would have known there was anyone behind the wall.
“There’s not a police officer in America who would ever want this type of circumstance to occur,” Moore told the outlet.
In 2021, Los Angeles police have shot at least 36 people — 12 fatally — a substantial increase from the last two years, according to the Times. Before the uptick, police shootings reached a 30-year low in 2019 after declining from a high of more than 100 per year in the 1990s.
A similar confrontation happened in July 2018 when LAPD officers accidentally shot and killed a woman at a Trader Joe’s store. Authorities said Gene Evin Atkins shot his grandmother and girlfriend before leading police on a chase that ended when he crashed his car outside the store. The ensuing gunfight killed Melyda Corado, 27, the assistant store manager.
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.
Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY; The Associated Press