Police shot and killed a man suspected of assault inside a Burlington store in North Hollywood Thursday, and an officer’s round went through a dressing room wall, killing a 14-year-old girl.
The incident took place around 11:45 a.m. near the intersection of Victory and Laurel Canyon boulevards, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, at a Burlington department store that’s part of a chain formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory.
Police initially received a call about an assault with a deadly weapon, then received additional calls indicating there was a shooting in progress, LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell said in an afternoon briefing.
Officers arrived at the location and began a looking for a gunman.
“While conducting that search for the suspect, the officers encountered an individual who was in the process of assaulting another, and an officer involved shooting occurred,” Spell said. “The suspect was struck by gunfire and was subsequently taken into custody.”
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded and declared two people dead at the scene.
One of the people who died was the suspect, who was shot and killed by police, according to LAPD.
The second person was a 14-year-old girl, who was found later, according to LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi
When officers were shooting at the suspect, one of the officer’s rounds penetrated a wall that was behind the suspect. Beyond that wall was a dressing room, and when officers searched the dressing room, they found the girl had been fatally struck by the gunfire, police said in a later briefing.
“You can’t see into the dressing rooms and it just looks like a straight wall of drywall,” Choi said.
In a statement released Thursday night, Police Chief Michel Moore said that more information, including “9-1-1 calls, radio transmissions, body worn video and any CCTV and other evidence gathered at this preliminary stage,” will be released by Monday.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” Moore said. “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. 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.”
Additionally, the woman who was assaulted by the suspect was bleeding and had moderate-to-serious injuries to her head, arms and face, police said. She was taken to a trauma center.
Police said they found a heavy metal cable lock near the suspect, but it was not yet clear what weapon he used when assaulting the woman.
A Burlington employee who wished to remain anonymous said the woman was struck by a chain.
Investigators still haven’t disclosed if it was a targeted or random attack.
“Right now there is an indication of one suspect,” Spell said.
The store was packed at the time of incident, filled with frightened employees and shoppers who sheltered in place.
Throughout the day, anxious family members gathered outside in the parking lot, hoping to hear from their loved ones inside — both customers and workers who witnessed the incident and who were being interviewed by authorities.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and surveillance footage will be reviewed.