Parents of girl shot dead by cops in store dressing room speak out

‘She died in my arms. There was nothing I could do’: Chilean parents of girl, 14, shot dead by cop’s stray bullet while shopping say they wanted to LEAVE the US – but she convinced them ‘it was the safest country in the world’

  • The LAPD released body camera footage from December 23, when Valentina Orellana Peralta, 14, was shot and killed by an officer’s stray bullet
  • Peralta had been trying on a quinceañera dress with her mother when Daniel Elena-Lopez, 24, began attacking women in the store with a steel bike lock
  • After Elena-Lopez had attacked four women, 11 armed police officers entered the Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood to arrest the suspect
  • In the footage, officers can be seen encountering a bloodied woman who Elena-Lopez had brutalized before an officer takes aim at the attacker
  • He shoots Elena-Lopez three times while Peralta and her mother were in the dressing room behind him, and the teen was fatally struck in the chest 
  • In bodycam footage of the shooting, Peralta’s mother’s cries can be heard from the dressing room after her daughter is shot 
  • In 45 minutes leading up to police arriving at the outlet, Elena-Lopez can be seen assaulting several women on CCTV footage in the store
  • On Tuesday, Peralta’s parents are scheduled to hold a press conference demanding that the LAPD is transparent in their investigation  

The parents of the 14-year-old girl who was killed last week by a Los Angeles police officer’s stray bullet while shopping for a quinceañera dress stood outside the LAPD headquarters on Tuesday and called for justice. 

Valentina Orellana-Peralta, the daughter of Chilean immigrants, was shot dead while hiding in a dressing room at the North Hollywood Burlington Coat Factory with her mother while police hunted for a man suspected of assaulting two other women. 

An officer was aiming rifle rounds at the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Daniel Elena-Lopez, when one of them struck Valentina. Elena-Lopez was also killed. 

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined the heartbroken parents and read a translated statement written by Valentina’s mother, who revealed that she and her daughter were hugging each other and praying inside the dressing room when the bullet struck the 14-year-old in the chest, killing her just two days before Christmas. 

Speaking in Spanish and choking back tears, Valentina’s mother, Soledad Peralta, said: ‘She died in my arms. I couldn’t do anything. Having a child die in your arms is one of the most painful things you can imagine.’

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Soledad Peralta and Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, the parents of Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, choked back tears at a press conference outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Tuesday 

Soledad Peralta said Valentina, 14, died in her arms, and there was nothing she could do for her daughter after she was shot by a police officer’s stray bullet 

Valentina’s father told reporters his daughter believed the US was the safest country in the world, and her greatest wish was to become an American citizen 

The girl’s grieving parents were joined by civil rights attorney Ben Crump (second left) 

The grief-stricken mother added: ‘Now our sweet angel is gone forever.’ 

The girl’s family said they had left their native Chile to get away from violence and injustice in search of a better life in the US. 

‘All she wanted was to become a American citizen,’ her father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, said in Spanish. ‘I once told her, let’s leave this country. ‘No, papa,’ she said. ‘This is the safest country in the world, a country of opportunity.’ Now my daughter is dead at the hands of the state.’  

The father said he was in Chile for the holidays when his wife called him, telling him their daughter had been killed, adding in Spanish: ‘my world collapsed on me.’  

Police shot and killed suspect Daniel Elena-Lopez, 24, after he allegedly attacked two women 

Valentina’s parents said the teen loved skateboarding and had dreams of becoming an engineer to build robots.   

Attorneys representing the Orellana Peralta family say the want the LAPD to release all the video from the crime scene and for the officer who fired the deadly shot to be held accountable. 

The press conference came a day after the police released a heavily edited package of surveillance and police body camera footage, which captured Valentina’s final moments.  

Her mother’s desperate cries can be faintly heard before cops realized their fatal mistake in the footage. 

In surveillance footage from the Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood on December 23 around 11.45 pm, eleven armed officers can be seen entering the store in response to 911 calls reporting a suspect, later identified as Elena-Lopez, who attacked two women. 

Elena-Lopez was in the process of beating a heavily-bleeding woman with a steel bike lock when police arrived, cops said.

The unidentified officer who fired the fatal bullet can be heard on his body camera footage yelling ‘victim down,’ ‘he’s hitting her to the right side,’ and ‘she’s bleeding, she’s bleeding!’ before he takes aim.

‘Hold up Jones, I got you!’ another officer says before the first policeman fires his rifle three times. He runs up to the Elena-Lopez, who flails on the ground, as another officer tends to the injured woman.

As officers tell Elena-Lopez to ‘get on [his] f***ing stomach,’ a woman can be heard screaming in the background from the dressing room.

The moment when the officers found the slain girl in the dressing room was not shown on the released police footage.  

Daniel Elena-Lopez, 24, can be seen laid out on the ground after he was shot by the Los Angeles Police Department officer. Behind him, Valentina Orellana Peralta, 14, was hiding in a dressing room with her mother

Pictured is the unnamed officer’s view of the suspect, Daniel Elena-Lopez, who had just beaten the bloodied, unidentified woman on the floor with a bike lock. Directly behind the suspect is the dressing room where Peralta and her mother were hiding as the chaos unfolded

Behind the suspect, Orellana Peralta and her mother were hiding in a dressing room. Officers can be seen entering the dressing room as another group of police attend to Elena-Lopez.   

LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said officers later found the teen’s lifeless body inside the changing room.

‘You can’t see into the dressing rooms and it just looks like a straight wall of drywall,’ Choi said at an earlier news conference.

 The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave for at least two weeks as the incident is under investigation, although officials said the full probe into the shooting could take up to a year. 

Body camera footage from the five officers closest to the LAPD officer who fired at Daniel Elena-Lopez, hitting Peralta in the process, were also shared in the LAPD press package

Police also shared the events that led up to the officer-involved shooting.  

In CCTV footage from around 11 am, Elena-Lopez can be seen entering the Burlington Coat Factory, pushing his bike while wearing a tank top and shorts. 

The steel bike lock that he would late use to brutally attack several women, with at least one hospitalized with moderate to severe injuries, is looped over his shoulder.   

LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell said in a pre-recorded briefing within the press package that Elena-Lopez took his bike to the second floor of the Burlington Coat Factory after he first entered the store, laying it in an aisle before he began trying on clothes. 

He was asked to move his bike by a female store employee, and he responded by smashing a nearby computer monitor. He then hit the glass railing, took the escalator down wearing a multicolored jacket and long pants, and tried to take another woman’s purse. 

Elena-Lopez can be seen laying on the ground after he was shot from another angle

When the woman resisted, Elena-Lopez tackled her and tried to attack her with the lock. The women, who police have yet to identify and question, was able to break away and run out of the store. 

Elena-Lopez then attempted to grab another woman as she came down the escalator. She, too, was able to break away and run out of the store. 

He then went back up to the second floor, where he approached a woman pushing a shopping cart from behind and hit her over the head with the bike lock. She crawled away, but Elena-Lopez dragged her back toward the dressing rooms and continued beating her. 

Police do not believe that any of the women knew their attacker. 

Three 911 calls to police reporting the attacks to police were also included in the press package. 

Daniel Elena-Lopez can be pictured lunging at a woman on the first floor of the outlet, trying to take her purse and hit her with his bike chain before she gets away

Daniel Elena-Lopez can be seen beating the unidentified woman was his bike lock as she holds up her hands to protect her head

One call is from a store employee who tells the operator that there is a ‘hostile customer in my store attacking customers’ who is ‘walking around the store looking for people’ and ‘breaking things.’ 

She can be heard frantically, repeatedly telling customers to evacuate the store, and tells the 911 operator that she and other employees have barricaded themselves in one of the store’s offices. 

Before the footage was released by the LAPD, the message ‘Release the Footage, Moore’ was written alongside a memorial of flowers and balloons outside the Burlington Coat Factory where the teen was killed.   

The Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled their daughter’s death a homicide from the gunshot wound to the chest. 

The parents of Valentina Orellana Peralta, Soledad Peralta (center) and Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas (right) will hold a press conference on Tuesday demanding transparency from the Los Angeles Police Department in their investigation into their daughter’s killing

Valentina Orellana Peralta, 14, (pictured as a child) was shot and killed in a Burlington dressing room after an unidentified police officer’s spray bullet struck her in the chest  

The Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Peralta’s death a homicide. Pictured is a petition demanding justice for the slain teen

‘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,’ Police Chief Michel Moore said on Thursday. 

The shooting is being investigated by the California Department of Justice under Attorney General Rob Bonta.   

‘It’s just absolutely heartbreaking, and I cannot find words to try to comfort a mother and a family, but I will ensure them and the public and our people that we will conduct a complete and thorough investigation,’ said Moore

Spell said the department is still seeking out unidentified witnesses and victims, and will continue to investigate the shooting over the next several months. 

When the department’s Critical Incident Review Division completes their investigation, Spell said, their findings will be sent to Moore, who will then make a recommendation to the Civilian Board of Police Commissioners. 

The board will then evaluate whether the officer’s tactics, drawing and exhibiting a weapon and his use of deadly force was justified. 

A 14-year-old girl who was shot dead by a Los Angeles police officer’s stray bullet during Thursday’s confrontation with an assault suspect at a Burlington Coat Factory was in a dressing room trying on gowns for a quinceanera with her mother. (Pictured: Shoppers are seen outside the store after the shooting)

Valentina Orellana Peralta, 14, was shopping for a quinceañera gown with her mother at this Burlington store in North Hollywood on Thursday when she was struck by cop’s stray bullet

Police say they came upon the male suspecting assaulting a woman and opened fire, killing the man. Pictured: a broken glass door is scene at the Burlington Coat Factory  

People are seen sobbing after the deadly shooting that took the life of the 14-year-old 

Police say the officer who fired the fatal shots did not know Valentine was inside the dressing room behind a wall 

A woman wipes her eye as police officers investigate the scene where two people were struck by gunfire in a shooting at a Burlington store )

Shoppers are seen at the scene after the officer-involved shooting, which is now under investigation 

No gun was found near the male assault suspect after his killing at the Burlington store

Moore said it did not appear that the officer who fired the fatal shots ‘would have known that there was anyone behind there or that he was looking at anyone other than the suspect and a wall.’ 

‘There’s not a police officer in America who would ever want this type of circumstance to occur,’ Moore added. 

Imelda Garcia said her sister works in the store and was on break when she heard gunshots and everyone started running. Garcia said she spoke to her sister on the phone and that she’s OK but sounded ‘really nervous.’

Police escorted people out of the store nearly two hours after the shooting.

A GoFundMe page was set up for the family and it has raised almost $18,000, far surpassing its $8,000 goal, as of Monday evening.

Thursday’s shooting comes come as homicide rates have soared 52 percent in the past two years, and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon is under fire for his soft-on-crime policies. 

Flowers and balloons are left along a sign reading ‘Release the Footage Moore’ at a makeshift memorial for the teenage girl who was killed by a police stray bullet at a Burlington coat factory in North Hollywood

Before the footage was released by the LAPD on Monday, the message ‘Release the Footage, Moore’ was written alongside a memorial of flowers and balloons outside the Burlington Coat Factory where the teen was killed

Gascon continues to be called out for a zero-bail policy that some critics say is exacerbating the region’s crime problems by freeing criminals to offend safe in the knowledge they’ll be straight back on the streets after. 

At this time in 2019, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded 251 homicides.  As of December 18, there have been 382 slayings in the city, representing a 52 percent increase, according to LAPD data. 

Burglaries have dipped over the past few years. 

Property crimes are up in California as a whole as well, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Year-over-year through October, violent crimes spiked five percent statewide, with Oakland up 17 percent and Los Angeles up about one percent, PPIC data shows. 

Homicide rates in LA have skyrocketed over the past two years. At this time in 2019, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded 251 homicides. Burglaries have dipped in recent years

Homicides during the same period rose 17 percent, from 523 last year to 613 as of October. In LA, homicides rose 17 percent, the institute said. 

Gascon, one of many progressive DAs bankrolled by billionaire Democrat donor George Soros, has survived one recall effort and faces another that was launched December 6 after he was accused of being soft on crime amid an epidemic of brazen smash-and-grab robberies perpetrated by organized groups of thieves. 

During the first week of December,  LA police arrested 14 suspects alleged to have been involved in 11 recent smash-and-grab robberies at stores last month, where nearly $340,000 worth of merchandise was stolen in strikes on an LA Nordstrom, a Lululemon in Studio City, a Fairfax district store, and a CVS pharmacy in South LA.

However, due to city’s zero-bail policies, the suspects were all released within hours of being handcuffed and are currently walking the streets while they wait for their cases to go to court.  

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