LOS ANGELES >>The Los Angeles police chief has released video today of a shooting last week (viewer discretion is advised) where a 14-year-old girl was killed when officers fired on an assault suspect and a bullet went through the wall and struck the girl as she was in a clothing store dressing room.
Police also fatally shot the suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, Thursday morning at a Burlington store in the North Hollywood area of the San Fernando Valley. The Los Angeles County coroner identified the girl, Valentina Orellana-Peralta, and Elena Lopez.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the agency would release 911 calls, radio transmissions, body camera footage and surveillance video from the shooting. The department’s policy is to release video from critical incidents, such as police shootings, within 45 days.
The California Department of Justice is also investigating Thursday’s shooting.
LAPD officers have shot people 38 people — 18 of them fatally, including the shooting Sunday of a man with a knife — in 2021, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Those figures mark a dramatic rise in cases where officers shot or killed people in either of the last two years — 27 people were shot and 7 of them killed by LA police in all of 2020. In 2019, officers shot 26 people, killing 12.
Mourners left flowers and a votive candle outside the store on Christmas in a memorial for Orellana-Peralta.
The Times reported that Elena Lopez’s previous criminal history includes convictions for car theft, carrying a loaded gun in public and carrying a gun as a felon. He was transferred to the Los Angeles County jail to the custody of the state prison system but a spokeswoman for the corrections department would not release his commitment history to the newspaper because of the LAPD investigation.
Thursday in North Hollywood, authorities said Elena Lopez was acting erratically, threatening to throw items from the upper floor, before attacking a woman with a bicycle lock shortly before noon as the store was crowded with holiday shoppers.
Officers answered a report of an assault and others of shots being fired. No gun — only the bike lock — was recovered at the scene.
The woman who was assaulted had moderate to serious injuries, including wounds to her head, arms and face. She has not been named publicly.
Officers opened fire on Elena Lopez but one of the bullets went through drywall behind him and killed Orellana-Peralta, who was in a changing room with her mother.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” Moore said in a statement late Thursday night. “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 shooting recalled a July 21, 2018, confrontation in which LAPD officers accidentally shot and killed a woman at a Trader Joe’s market. Officers got into a gunfight with a man who authorities say shot his grandmother and girlfriend before leading police on a chase that ended when he crashed his car outside the market.
Police shot and killed Melyda Corado, 27, the assistant store manager, as she ran toward the store’s entrance after hearing the car crash.
The suspect, Gene Evin Atkins, took employees and shoppers hostage for three hours before surrendering, authorities said.
Atkins has pleaded not guilty to the killing.
Prosecutors found two police officers acted lawfully when they returned Atkins’ gunfire.