LOS ANGELES – The coroner’s office identified the 14-year-old girl who was fatally shot and killed by Los Angeles police on Thursday when officers shot a suspect and a bullet went through the wall and hit the girl as she got in a clothing store was located locker room.
Police fatally shot the suspect Thursday morning in a shop in Burlington, North Hollywood, San Fernando Valley, police said.
The Los Angeles County coroner identified the girl as Valentina Orellana-Peralta. The suspect’s name is not yet known.
According to the Los Angeles Times, LAPD officials shot at least 37 people – 17 fatally – in 2021 after another police shootout broke out on Friday. These numbers mark a dramatic increase in the number of people shot or killed by officials in the past two years – 27 people were shot dead and 7 of them were killed by LA police throughout 2020. In 2019, officials shot dead 26 people, killing 12.
In the past week, LA officials killed four people – including two men in various incidents on Saturday, the newspaper reported.
On Thursday, witnesses in North Hollywood told KCBS-TV that the man began acting erratically, threatening to throw items off the upper floor, and attacked a woman with a bicycle lock just before noon when the store was crowded with Christmas shoppers .
The officers responded to one report of an attack and others about gunshots being fired, police said. Investigators did not find a weapon at the scene.
The suspect was shot in the store and died, but one of the bullets penetrated a drywall behind the man, killing the girl who was in a locker room with her mother, police said.
Officials found the teenager dead after seeing a hole in a “solid wall that is hard to see,” said LAPD deputy chief Dominic Choi.
Investigators did not immediately know whether she was in the locker room or hiding there before the violence began, he said.
“This chaotic incident, which led to the death of an innocent child, is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” said Police Chief Michel Moore in a statement late Thursday evening. “I am deeply sorry for the loss of this young girl and I know that there are no words that can alleviate the unimaginable pain for the family.”
Moore promised a “thorough, complete and transparent investigation” into the shooting, saying that a video of a critical incident with emergency calls, a body camera and other videos would be released by Monday.
The attacked woman is not identified.
Investigators tried to find out whether it was an arbitrary or targeted attack. Choi said she did not think the teenager was related to the person attacked.
Police found a heavy metal cable lock near the suspect, Choi said.
The California Department of Justice is investigating the shooting, Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
News reports showed that a bloody-faced woman who appeared to be the victim of the assault was put in an ambulance.
The victim was taken to hospital with moderate to severe injuries, said fire department spokesman Nicholas Prange. Choi said she had wounds on her head, arms and face.
On Friday morning, the Times reported that the Burlington store remained closed even though it was supposed to open at 7 a.m.
Several signs in Spanish and English with the words “closed until further notice !!!” greeted prospective buyers.
The shooting recalled a confrontation on July 21, 2018, in which LAPD officials accidentally shot and killed a woman in Trader Joe’s market. Officials got into a shootout with a man whom authorities say shot his grandmother and girlfriend before leading police on a car chase that ended when he collided with his car outside the market.
A police bullet killed Melyda Corado, 27, the deputy branch manager, when she ran to the store’s entrance after hearing the car accident.
The suspect, Gene Evin Atkins, held employees and buyers hostage for three hours before surrendering, authorities said.
Atkins has pleaded not guilty to the murder.
Prosecutors found that two police officers were acting lawfully retorting Atkins’ shots.