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Los Angeles police want to investigate teenage death

An investigation has been opened after the death of a 14-year-old girl, killed in a changing room by a stray bullet fired by a police officer responding to an assault in the store, Los Angeles police deplored on Monday.

On December 23, police were called for an “armed robbery” in a clothing store in North Hollywood, near Los Angeles, according to the police statement.

A woman with gunshot wounds

On their arrival, the police had discovered in the shelves of the store a woman in blood “suffering from various injuries” but conscious, a few meters from the suspect. According to on-board camera videos released on Monday, one of the police officers almost immediately opened fire on the suspect three times with a rifle, fatally injuring him.

“Unbeknownst to the police, a 14-year-old girl was in a dressing room on the other side of a wall directly behind the suspect” and it was only after the shooting that the officers discovered that the teenager had been shot dead.

“A chaotic incident”

According to the first elements of the investigation, “it seems that the victim was struck by a bullet which ricocheted on the ground and penetrated the wall of the dressing room”, specifies the police. Valentina Orellana-Peralta was shopping with her mother for her fifteenth birthday, the “quinceanera,” a hugely important coming of age ceremony in Latin America and among some Hispanic communities in the United States.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore deplored “a chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child,” apologized to the family and pledged to shed light on ” circumstances which led to this tragedy ”. As such, he requested that emergency calls, radio exchanges, images from on-board cameras and CCTV be made public on Monday.

In her call to the police, a store worker said the man was brandishing a heavy bicycle lock that he was using to try to assault customers. In another emergency call, a client mentioned a gun and shots, but no gun was found at the scene.

The suspect in a daze

The man, 24 years old and already prosecuted for acts of violence, was first stationed at the foot of an escalator where he had attacked two clients, trying to take their bags. Visibly very agitated and in a daze, we see him on the CCTV images removing his pants before going upstairs. It was there that he attacked a third victim from behind, hitting her repeatedly on the head with his padlock.

One of the main civil rights organizations for Hispanic Americans, Lulac, strongly criticized the conditions under which the police intervened on Monday. “It is unacceptable that the Los Angeles police were able to open fire in a crowded store at the height of Christmas shopping without knowing for sure whether the suspect was armed,” reacted the president of Lulac, Domingo Garcia.

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