LAPD Releases Videos From Fatal Shooting of Teen Girl in Clothing Store

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
December 28, 2021 Updated: December 28, 2021

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Monday released surveillance footage and police camera videos showing the moment police fatally shot a teenage girl in a clothing store after officers fired at an assault suspect.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, was hiding in a Burlington clothing store dressing room with her mother when she was hit in the chest by a bullet as officers opened fire on a man suspected of assault on Thursday morning.

The department released an edited video package online that included 911 calls, radio transmissions, body camera footage and surveillance video. Its policy is to release video from critical incidents, such as police shootings, within 45 days.

Los Angeles police officers were responding to a call from a frightened employee saying that a man was “going crazy” in the store—part of a chain formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory—in the North Hollywood area of the San Fernando Valley.

“I have a hostile customer in my store attacking customers!” she told dispatchers in a 911 call. “He’s walking around the store looking for people.”

“There’s a guy with a gun,” another caller told a dispatcher.

The male, later identified as Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, had been attacking a woman with a bike lock, footage showed.

Surveillance video showed the a man in tank top and shorts attacking two women, including one who fell to the floor before he dragged her by her feet through the store’s aisles as she tried to crawl away.

The video showed the suspect carrying a bicycle up the store’s escalator to the second floor, where he wandered around, seemingly disoriented, clutching a cable-style bike lock. At times he stood motionless, staring into the distance.

The footage later showed the man on the down escalator attacking a woman, who managed to escape his grip and run out of the store.

The man then left the store for a minute and a half, police said. After he returned, according to the video, he repeatedly beat a woman with a bike lock while she cowered on the floor. As she tried to escape, he dragged her through the aisle toward the dressing rooms.

At least one officer opened fire, striking the suspect, and the teenage girl was fatally struck by a stray bullet. 

Both Lopez and the girl, Orellana-Peralta, were killed.

No firearm—only a bike lock—was recovered at the scene.

“At this preliminary phase of the investigation, it is believed that the victim was struck by one of the rounds fired by an officer at the suspect,” police Capt. Stacy Spell said in a posted video. Police believe the bullet skipped off the floor and struck the dressing room wall.

The investigation is just beginning and it could take up to a year or more to complete, Spell said. The California Department of Justice is also investigating.

“We at the LAPD would like to express our most heartfelt condolences and profound regret for the loss of this innocent victim, Valentina Orellana-Peralta. There are no words that can describe the depth of the sorrow we feel at this tragic outcome,” Spell said in the video.

The teenager was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, coroner records show. Her manner of death was ruled as homicide.

Local news outlets reported that the teenage girl and her mother had been shopping for a dress for her upcoming quinceanera—a 15th birthday celebration in Hispanic traditions that marks passage from girlhood to womanhood.

She had just recently reconnected with family, her aunt, Carolina Peralta, told the Times.

“Valentina died in the arms of her mother, inside the dressing room,” her aunt said. “My sister does not understand how this tragedy could have happened just when they had managed to reunite the family.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the suspect has previously been convicted for car theft, carrying a loaded gun in public and carrying a gun as a felon.

Elena Lopez has been transferred to the Los Angeles County jail to the custody of the state prison system.

An LAPD spokesman told Reuters that a police officer who fired the round that struck Orellana-Peralta has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation.

The Epoch Times has contacted the LAPD for additional comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.