A 14-year-old girl killed by Los Angeles police when they opened fire on a suspect who was allegedly assaulting someone in a North Hollywood clothing store on Thursday has been identified as Valentina Orellana-Peralta, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Valentina was in a changing room with her mother when an officer fired a round through a wall near the assault suspect, striking her and killing her at the scene, according to preliminary information from police.
The teenager was at the Burlington store trying on dresses for a quinceañera, a Los Angeles Police Department source confirmed to The Times.
The assault suspect, who was shot and killed by police, was identified as Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, according to the county coroner. A woman who was injured by the suspect was transported to a local hospital, police said.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore called the girl’s death “absolutely heartbreaking” and promised a thorough investigation, as did William Briggs, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission.
California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said the state Department of Justice would also investigate the shooting under rules set by a law that took effect July 1.
Police critics and others outraged by the girl’s death blasted the LAPD for opening fire in an occupied clothing store — citing the shooting two days before Christmas as just the latest example of what they see as LAPD officers being too quick to draw and fire their weapons.
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As of Friday, LAPD officers had shot at least 37 people in 2021, killing 17 of them — substantially more than they shot or killed in either of the last two years. They have killed four people just in the last week, with two men killed in separate incidents on Saturday, and in the latest incident shot another man Christmas Eve.
LAPD officers shot 27 people, killing seven, in all of 2020, and shot 26 people, killing 12, in 2019. Officers shot 33 people in 2018.
The 26 shootings in 2019 marked a 30-year low in the number of LAPD shootings in a given year, and a dramatic drop in such shootings from a high of more than 100 per year in the early 1990s.
In Thursday’s shooting, officers responded to a call about an assault with a deadly weapon at the store in the 12100 block of Victory Boulevard about 11:45 a.m. Thursday and shot the suspect a short distance from a woman “suffering from various injuries and bleeding,” police said.
The unidentified woman was later taken to the hospital for treatment of her injuries, police said. Her condition was not immediately known.
During a search of the premises for additional suspects or victims, an officer found the slain girl, LAPD officials said.
“One of the officer’s rounds penetrated a wall that was behind the suspect, beyond that wall was a dressing room,” according to a tweet from the LAPD’s media relations office. “Officers searched the dressing room and found a 14 year old female victim who was struck by gunfire.”
A heavy metal cable lock — no gun — was recovered from near the suspect, police said.
Moore promised to release body-camera and surveillance video from the incident by Monday.
The Burlington store, which normally opens about 7 a.m., remained closed shortly before 9 a.m. Friday.
Throughout the morning, people walked up to the doors where they saw multiple signs, posted in Spanish and English, that read “closed until further notice!!!”
Martin Morales, 32, had come on Friday morning to buy an outfit to wear for Christmas with his family.
Morales, who lives about a mile away, was surprised to see that it was closed. He hadn’t heard about the shooting the day before.
He had planned to come to the store on Thursday afternoon but had put it off.
“I guess I was lucky,” he said.