Burlington incident: 14-year-old girl fatally hit by stray bullet from police identified
LOS ANGELES - The state Attorney General's office is investigating a shooting by Los Angeles police officers that left two dead, including an assault suspect and an innocent 14-year-old girl who was struck by a stray bullet that passed through a dressing room wall at a Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood Thursday afternoon.
The victim was identified by the coroner's office Friday as 14-year-old Valentina Orellana Peralta.
Police responded to the department store on Laurel Canyon Blvd. and Victory Blvd. around 11:45 a.m. after receiving calls of an assault with a deadly weapon. According to Stacey Spell with the Los Angeles Police Department Media Relations, while officers were en route to the store they received additional calls of shots fired.
Employees and customers were sheltering in place. However, it is unclear if any shots were fired prior to officers arriving.
When officers arrived on scene, they began searching the area for the suspect. They soon located the suspect who was in the process of assaulting another person, Spell told reporters. At that time an officer-involved shooting occurred and the suspect was killed on scene.
A 14-year-old girl was found dead with a gunshot wound inside the store's dressing room, LAPD said. The dressing room was directly behind the suspect, according to the LAPD. At the time of the shooting, the girl was in the changing area with her mother. The LAPD believes the teen girl was hit by one of the rounds fired by an officer. It’s believed the bullet passed through the wall of the dressing room.
"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," LAPD Chief Michel Moore stated.
The other victim who was assaulted by the suspect was taken to the hospital; the extent of their injuries is unknown at this time.
The LAPD Family Liaison is working closely with the Mayor's Crisis Response Team and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez to provide assistance to the 14- year-old girl's family, a department official said.
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The California Attorney General’s Office will be investigating the officer-involved shooting and will independently review the case.
Chief Moore said in a statement, "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."
The police chief said that he directed the release of the critical incident video by Monday, December 27, which will include the 9-1-1 calls, radio transmissions, body-worn video and any CCTV and other evidence gathered at this preliminary stage.
Burlington Coat Factory representatives released the following statement, "At Burlington, our hearts are heavy as a result of the tragic incident that occurred today at our North Hollywood, CA store. Our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our customers and associates. This is an ongoing investigation, and we are supporting authorities."
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