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Family Of 14-Year-Old Girl Killed By LAPD Cop Who Shot At Fleeing Suspect Demands Justice

Family Of 14-Year-Old Girl Killed By LAPD Cop Who Shot At Fleeing Suspect Demands Justice
Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Warning: The videos in this article contain graphic and violent footage.

The family of Valentina Orellana Peralta–the 14-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet at a Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood, California–are demanding justice.

Valentina, who was shopping with her mother the day before Christmas Eve, was trying on clothes in the dressing room when chaos unfolded inside the store due to a male suspect who was attacking customers with what appeared to be a bicycle chain and lock.

The young girl was struck by a stray bullet fired from one of the police officers who shot and killed the suspect who did not brandish a firearm.

You can watch a news report of the incident, here.

The fatally-shot suspect–who was identified by police as 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez–had entered the store with his bike and started attacking other customers, unprovoked.

Witnesses and employees called 911.

Transcripts from the calls, as well as edited surveillance and body camera footage, can be seen in this 35-minute video.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) claimed the responding officers believed Elena Lopez was carrying a gun based on the chaos and confusion from shoppers fleeing the scene.

Bodycam footage showed an officer shooting at Elena Lopez and taking him down after the suspect had attacked an unnamed female customer.

In the process, one of the fired bullets pierced through the wall of the dressing room where Valentina and her mother, Soledad Peralta, were seeking shelter from the pandemonium.

The young teenager was struck and died in the arms of her mother, whose screams could be heard in the bodycam footage after the shooting ceased.

The grieving mother recounted the tragic event during a press conference on Tuesday.

"We heard some screams and sat down and hugged and started crying," she said in her statement that was translated from Spanish to English.

They were reacting to the confrontation they heard outside the dressing room inside the store.

“Valentina went to lock the door to protect us. We started hugging each other tighter."
"We were praying. I was praying for her, and I believe she was praying for me."

She continued to describe what no mother should ever have to witness.

"I saw white powder coming out of Valentina's body and she began to go through convulsions. Her body went limp. I tried to wake her up by shaking her."

She added:

"She died in my arms and there was nothing I could do. To see a son or daughter die in your arms is one of the greatest and most profound pains that any human being can imagine."
"When the police finally came, they took me out of the dressing room and left my daughter laying there. I wanted them to help her, but they just left her laying there alone."

On Thursday night, Police Chief Michel Moore said in a statement:

“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved."
“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."

Valentina's aunt, Carolina Peralta, told the Los Angeles Times that her sister and niece came to California from Chile six months ago after initially visiting Valentina's sister, who was working at a restaurant.

The mother and daughter's visit turned into a longer stay, and they had begun the immigration process to live in the country permanently.

"Valentina was a shy girl in Chile, but everything was turning out well for her in the US," said Carolina Peralta.

"She was catching up with English and being more outgoing. She was happy to be with her older sister."

Carolina said of her sister who had just lost her daughter:

"[Soledad] does not understand how this tragedy could have happened just when they had managed to reunite the family."

During Tuesday's press conference, lawyers for the Peralta family did not announce any legal proceedings but said they were considering options–including a possible civil lawsuit.

"We want justice for our angel. Our precious little angel, Valentina," said Soledad.

Ben Crump, who is one of the attorneys representing the Peralta family, said:

“They can never get Valentina back. What they want Valentina’s legacy to be is that no one will ever be killed like this in this manner.”