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(Video Credit: Los Angeles Times – WARNING: Graphic Footage)
Tragedy struck in a Burlington Coat Factory store in Los Angeles when the LAPD opened fire on a suspect who had violently attacked a number of women during a robbery, accidentally hitting and killing a 14-year-old girl hiding in a dressing room with her mother.
The mother can be heard screaming in a video released by the LAPD after her daughter, Valentina Orellana Peralta, was hit while officers were subduing the suspect. They rushed to the girl but she was declared dead at the scene. She was hit in the chest by a stray bullet that had gone through the dressing room wall and was killed instantly.
The teen had been shopping for a quinceañera dress in North Hollywood, according to the Daily Mail. Officers realized something had gone horrifically wrong when they heard the mother’s cries after shooting at the suspect.
Peralta’s parents are scheduled to hold a press conference on Tuesday. They are expected to demand that the Los Angeles Police Department be transparent in their investigation.
(Video Credit: CBS Los Angeles)
The incident occurred on December 23rd. Eleven heavily armed officers responded to the scene after multiple 911 calls came in reporting that the suspect was attacking customers. He was later identified as Daniel Elena-Lopez. He assaulted four different women beating them with a steel bike lock.
The officer who fired his weapon has not been identified. You can hear on the bodycam footage that he is yelling “victim down,” “he’s hitting her to the right side,” and “she’s bleeding, she’s bleeding!” before he fires his weapon.
“Hold up Jones, I got you!” another officer yells prior to the first policeman firing his weapon three times. He runs up to Elena-Lopez, who was on the ground at that point.
The suspect was ordered to get on his stomach and then a scream can be heard in the background coming from the dressing room.
The officer who fired his weapon has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation over the next two weeks. The full investigation could take as long as a year according to officials.
The altercation began when Elena-Lopez entered the store with his bike. He had the steel lock on the bike and would later allegedly use it as a weapon. One of his victims is now hospitalized with moderate to severe injuries.
He took his bike to the second floor and laid it in an aisle before trying on clothes, according to LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell.
A female store employee asked Elena-Lopez to move his bike and he went into a rage, smashing a nearby computer monitor, the Daily Mail reported. Then he started pounding on a glass railing. He went down the escalator and allegedly tried to steal a woman’s purse. She got away but not before he tried to beat her with the bike lock. He reportedly accosted another woman at the bottom of the escalator and she ran for her life. At some point, he allegedly attacked a third woman as well.
Elena-Lopez went back to the second floor where he reportedly attacked a woman pushing a shopping cart, hitting her from behind over the head with the steel bike lock. She tried to crawl away and he dragged her back toward the dressing rooms while beating her. Then he was taken down by the police.
The Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled that the young girl’s death was a homicide due to a gunshot to the chest. It remains to be seen whether the officer’s actions will be determined to be “justified” during the shooting.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child 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,” Police Chief Michel Moore sadly stated on Thursday.
The shooting is now being investigated by the California Department of Justice under Attorney General Rob Bonta.
“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,” Moore added.
Los Angeles homicide rates have soared in the last two years and crime is off the charts. Much of it is attributed to Soros-backed Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon’s zero-bail policy.
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