The Los Angeles Police Department on Monday released store and body camera footage that showed the fatal shooting of a 14-year old girl who was struck by a stray bullet while in a Burlington store dressing room.
Officials said 14-year old Valentina Orellana-Peralta was killed by a bullet that skipped off the floor and entered the wall when officers shot at an armed suspect in the North Hollywood store on December 23.
Daniel Elena-Lopez, 24, attacked several shoppers with a heavy-duty cable lock and was wielding it when police arrived on the scene.
In the graphic 35-minute LAPD video, blood-curdling screams could be heard from inside the dressing room area where Orellana-Peralta and her mother were hiding –– right behind a wall where officers fatally shot Elena-Lopez.
“During a search for additional suspects and victims, officers found the girl and discovered she had been struck by gunfire and she was determined deceased at the scene,” said LAPD spokesman Capt. Stacy Spell.
“At this preliminary phase of the investigation, it is believed that the victim was struck by one of the rounds fired by an officer at the suspect. We at the LAPD would like to express our most heartfelt condolences and profound regret for the loss of this innocent victim, Valentina Orellana-Peralta. There are no words that can describe the depth of the sorrow we feel for this tragic outcome.”
The video showed officers with guns drawn as they approached a female victim on the ground, her head bleeding profusely after Elena-Lopez repeatedly hit her on the head with the cable lock and then dragged her across the aisles toward the dressing room area.
At one point in the video, one of the officers yelled at the other cops, “Hey, slow down! Let me take point with the rifle,” as they approached the female victim who was bleeding on the floor.
Another officer yelled, “He’s got a tube,” before they approached the aisle where Elena-Lopez was attacking the woman.
The officer armed with a rifle yelled, “Hey, she’s bleeding, she’s bleeding,” right before he fired two shots at Elena-Lopez.
As officers approached Elena-Lopez and yelled at him to get on his stomach, others rushed to the sound of a woman screaming from the other side of the wall where the dressing rooms were located.
The video also included 911 calls made by a Burlington employee who told emergency dispatchers that a man was inside the store attacking customers. As the employee was providing information to the dispatcher, she also tried to warn customers to evacuate the building.
The employee also told the dispatcher that the suspect did not have a knife or a gun, but he had a bicycle lock.
“The crazy guy is going crazy,” said the employee who barricaded herself along with others in an office.
Another caller, however, told dispatchers that the suspect had a gun. The video also showed frantic shoppers running out of the store as officers made their way up the two-story building.
Before the shooting, store video footage showed Elena-Lopez hitting a screen, groping an employee, and attacking two other women as they tried to go down the escalator.
Both of those women were able to escape, but Elena-Lopez continued to terrorize patrons and took off his pants before he attacked the third woman from behind and hit her repeatedly with the heavy-duty cable lock.
Orellana-Peralta and her mother were at the store to buy a dress for the teen for a quinceañera, officials said.
Earlier on Monday, the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office released preliminary autopsy results and ruled Orellana-Peralta’s death a homicide. The teen died of a gunshot wound to the chest, medical examiner officials said.
The California Attorney General’s Office is conducting an independent review of the case.
Once its report is completed, the investigation will be turned over to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecution Section within the Criminal Law Division, which conducts independent reviews.
Spell said the LAPD Police Chief Michael Moore also will make his recommendations to the civilian board of police commissioners, which will then evaluate the evidence to determine if the tactics used by the officers met LAPD’s standards.
A GoFundMe page set up for Orellana-Peralta’s family said the teen and her family moved just a few months ago from Santiago, Chile before settling in Los Angeles “with a goal of a better life.” As of Monday night, about $10,650 was raised by the crowd-funding site.