Valentina Orellana-Peralta was killed Thursday when officers fired at an assault suspect and a bullet went through a wall and struck the girl as she was in a dressing room. A Justice For Valentina campaign, as well as a GoFundMe account, has been created on behalf of the victim’s family.
Police also fatally shot the suspect, identified by the L.A. County coroner as 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez. Online coroner records show their autopsies have been completed and their causes of death were both a gunshot wound to the chest.
Officers responded to the store after a call about an assault with a deadly weapon. As officers made their way to the scene, police received additional calls of a possible active shooter situation underway at that location with reports of shots fired. Investigators have not found a gun at the scene.
When police arrived at the scene, they encountered a suspect “who was in the process of assaulting” a woman.
The suspect was shot and died at the store but one of the bullets went through drywall behind the man and killed the girl, who was in a changing room with her mother, police said.
Officers found the teenager dead after seeing a hole in “a solid wall that you can’t see behind,” LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said.
Investigators didn’t immediately know whether she was in the dressing room before the violence began or ran in there to hide, he said.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” Police Chief Michel 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.”
Moore promised a “thorough, complete and transparent investigation” into the shooting and said a critical incident video that will include 911 calls, body camera and other video will be released by Monday.
The woman who was attacked is not being identified.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the assault was random or targeted. Choi said they don’t believe the teenager was related to the person who was attacked.
The California Department of Justice was investigating the shooting, Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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