North Hollywood

Family, Friends Mourn Girl Struck and Killed by Stray Bullet in Police Shooting

Valentina Orellana Peralta was in a Burlington store dressing room Dec. 23 when she was struck by a round fire during a police shooting at the North Hollywood business.

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Family, friends and community activists gathered Monday to mourn a 14-year-old girl struck and killed by a stray bullet fired during a police shooting at a North Hollywood clothing store as she was shopping for clothes with her mother.

The body of Valentina Orellana-Peralta was displayed in an open casket next to a large photo of the girl at City of Refuge, United Church of Christ in Los Angeles. The Rev. Al Sharpton officiated and delivered the eulogy.

An officer was following active shooter protocols in the police shooting that led to the death of a 14-year-old girl. Video broadcast Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022 on Today in LA.

Valentina was remembered as a happy teen with many friends who loved sports and excelled in school. The teen’s father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, said he and her mother will never get over the devastation of losing Valentina so violently.

“As parents, we ask ourselves, is it just for our daughter to die in this way? It’s an answer we will never have,” he said

 A translator speaking on behalf of Valentina's mother Soledad Peralta -- who gave a tearful speech about her daughter -- said, "She's trying to understand what was her daughter's purpose, but she thinks that it was a mission of peace and of love.''

Valentina's cousin, Emily Carr, spoke about how loved Valentina was by her family, and who she had grown into during her 14 years.

"Valentina was pensive and quiet, always thoughtful, always thinking. She absorbed the world around her like a sponge. Always analyzing, appreciating people and places around her,'' Carr said.

"With so much love around her, it is no question that Valentina grew such a big heart, all of her dreams consisted of applying herself into helping others. In only 14 years, Valentina was making all of the people who loved her proud. This is what we will remember when we think of Valentina.''

During Monday's service, Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the girl's family, led mourners in a chant of “Valentina is innocent!”

“We pray for peace and justice for this innocent blood spilled,” said Crump.

Valentina’s mother, Soledad Peralta, said last month that the family had left Chile to get away from violence and injustice in search of a better life in the U.S. Monday's ceremony was translated in real time by a Spanish interpreter.

Her family has said the teen loved skateboarding and had dreams of becoming an engineer to build robots. They 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.

Valentina was shopping for Christmas clothes Dec. 23 when she was struck by a stray bullet fired by Los Angeles police who opened fire on a man attacking shoppers. A bullet went through an exterior wall of the dressing room and struck the girl, police said. 

Valentina died at the scene in her mother’s arms. 

Police responded to the Burlington store after receiving a report of an assault with a deadly weapon suspect attacking people. That weapon turned out to be a bike lock and cable.

On their way to the scene, officers also received reports of an active shooter, police said. No gun was found at the scene. 

Police released edited body camera and security video of the chaotic series of events at the store. The video shows a man attacking people, dragging a woman in the store and a group of officers, one with a rifle, moving toward the attacker. 

After hearing screams outside the dressing room, Valentina locked the dressing room door, her mother said at a news conference.

Newly released video shows the moment LAPD officers encountered a man who was attacking shoppers in a North Hollywood Burlington Coat Factory. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2021.

After hearing screams outside the dressing room, Valentina locked the dressing room door, her mother said at a news conference.

Activists were asking if there was a way for officers to de-escalate without opening fire, while the LAPD released shocking video that showed the suspect beating a woman before officers shot him. Angie Crouch reports Dec. 27, 2021.

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

The 24-year-old suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, died at the scene. The woman who was assaulted had moderate to serious injuries, including wounds to her head, arms and face. She has not been named publicly.

The LAPD officer who fired the round that struck Valentina is on leave. A police union representative said earlier this week he was following active shooter protocols due to reports of a shooter at the store.

In a statement, Los Angeles police said officers did not know the dressing room was occupied. Valentina was found after the shooting during a search for additional attackers.

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

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