Girl died in her mom’s arms in LA shooting, had dreams of being an engineer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 14-year-old was shopping for Christmas clothes last week with her mother when the pair heard screams and hid in a dressing room, where the girl was fatally shot by Los Angeles police after an officer fired a rifle at a suspect and a bullet pierced a wall, the family said Tuesday.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta died in her mother’s arms last Thursday at a Burlington store in the San Fernando Valley’s North Hollywood neighborhood. Her family said the teen loved skateboarding and had dreams of becoming an engineer to build robots.

After screams broke out in the store the day before Christmas Eve, the teenager locked the dressing room door.

“We sat down on a seat, holding each other, praying, when something hit my daughter, Valentina, and threw us to the floor,” she said. “And my daughter died in my arms. I couldn’t do anything.”

The teen’s family stood outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Tuesday, next to a large photo of Orellana-Peralta wreathed in flowers, to call for justice and remember their daughter.

<p>Soledad Peralta and Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, the parents of Valentina Orellana-Peralta, attend a news conference outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Tuesday.</p>

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Soledad Peralta and Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, the parents of Valentina Orellana-Peralta, attend a news conference outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Tuesday.

Speaking in Spanish and choking back tears as sirens wailed in the background of the news conference in downtown LA, they said they had left Chile to get away from violence and injustice in search of a better life in the U.S.

The LAPD on Monday posted an edited video package online that included 911 calls, radio transmissions, body camera footage and surveillance video from the Thursday shooting at a Burlington store crowded with holiday shoppers. The department’s policy is to release video from critical incidents, such as police shootings, within 45 days.

The family’s attorneys — including civil rights lawyer Ben Crump — have sent a letter to the LAPD asking for more video.

The 24-year-old suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, died at the scene. Soledad Peralta’s screams can be heard in the video.

“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 the posted video. Police believe the bullet skipped off the floor and struck the dressing room wall.

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.

Mourners left flowers and a votive candle outside the store on Christmas in a memorial for Orellana-Peralta. Her family said she earned good grades, even though English was her second language and she’d only been in the U.S. for about six months.

Her father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, already had purchased tickets to relocate to the U.S. when he learned of his daughter’s death. They were planning to go to an NBA basketball game — she was a fan of star LeBron James — and see a favorite band perform, he said.

Orellana Larenas held up a brand-new skateboard, still in its plastic wrapping, that his daughter had ordered online. It was delivered after she died.

The family plans to leave the skateboard at her grave “so that she can skate with the angels,” her father said.