Authorities on Friday identified the teenage girl who was killed when an LAPD officer’s bullet pierced through a fitting room wall while police were firing at an assault suspect inside a Burlington store in North Hollywood.
The 14-year-old child was identified as Valentina Orellana-Peralta by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The girl was trying on dresses for a quinceañera when she was struck by gunfire, an unnamed police source told the Los Angeles Times.
The police shooting happened around 11:45 a.m. Thursday, when Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon at the store near the intersection of Victory and Laurel Canyon boulevards.
LAPD had gotten multiple calls that there was a possible shooting in progress and that shoppers inside the packed store were sheltering in place, the department said in a news release.
Officers arrived to find an injured woman, bleeding inside the store.
Nearby, they found the suspect assaulting someone else, LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell said in a media briefing.
Police opened fire, shooting and killing the assailant.
“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,” LAPD said in a news release.
The girl, Orellana-Peralta, was in the fitting room with her mother when police opened fire inside the store.
She was found wounded as police were searching the shop for additional victims. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
Officials said it is believed the girl was struck by one of the rounds fired by an officer at the suspect.
An employee at the store who wished to remain anonymous told KTLA she heard the words “evacuate, evacuate” through her walkie as the chaos began to unfold.
She then heard gunshots, closed the doors and moved tables as the suspect attacked the woman on the floor above where she and her coworker were hiding, the employee said.
“She was hugging her daughter and a bullet hit her daughter through the ribs,” the employee told KTLA of the 14-year-old’s mother, who she huddled with at some point.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he is committed to conducting a thorough investigation into the shooting, and that video of the incident will be released next week.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” the chief 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.”
The woman who was first was assaulted by assailant suffered moderate-to-serious injuries to her head, arms and face and was taken to a hospital.
It’s unclear what the suspect used to attack the woman, but police said they found a heavy metal cable lock near the suspect.
Authorities have not released information on a possible motive behind the attack, and it remains unclear if it was a targeted or random attack.