Valentina Orellana-Peralta's mother watched in horror as her teen daughter fell to the floor after being shot.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 29, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic details that may be distressing to readers.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta, a 14-year-old Chile native, died after being shot in the chest inside a Burlington store in North Hollywood. Officers received information about a man attacking customers with a bike lock who was later identified as 24-year-old Daniel Elena-Lopez. Police received a call to the North Hollywood store around 11:45 a.m. December 23 for a report of an assault with a deadly weapon.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, came to the U.S. from Chile with her mother, Soledad Peralta, about six months ago to visit her older sister.— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) December 28, 2021
On Thursday, her life was cut short when an LAPD officer shot her inside a Burlington clothing store.https://t.co/9r1E5IPIfj pic.twitter.com/nE9scRXQ3E
The man can be seen attacking several female customers in the footage released by the Los Angeles Police Department. At the time, Valentina was trying to hide in a dressing room with her mother. "Preliminarily, it is believed the victim was struck by a round which skipped off the floor and entered the dressing room wall," police said in the video footage. Three shots were fired; Elena-Lopez was shot in the chest and died at the scene. The footage has been released by Los Angeles Police Chief Michel R. Moore in an effort to "conduct a thorough, complete and transparent investigation into the circumstances that led up to this tragedy and provide the family and public with as much information as possible."
"Valentina died in the arms of her mother, inside the dressing room," her aunt Carolina Peralta told Los Angeles Times. "My sister does not understand how this tragedy could have happened just when they had managed to reunite the family." Valentina's mother, Soledad Peralta, described in horror, the events that occurred. "We sat down and held each other and prayed," said Peralta, adding that Valentina fell to the floor after being shot. "She died in my arms," her mother said at a news conference. "I couldn't do anything. To see a son or daughter die in your arms is one of the greatest and most profoundly painful things you can imagine. Valentina meant to world to me and her family and friends. Now our sweet angel is gone forever. Valentina give us strength to find justice. My daughter, I love you."
A photo of the family from the attorneys.— Emily Elena Dugdale (she/her) (@eedugdale) December 28, 2021
On Christmas, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, commenting on a Facebook photo of his daughter Valentina Orellana Peralta, wrote in Spanish, "you were an angel given from God."
"Te amo, mi hija," wrote Valentina's mother, Soledad Peralta. pic.twitter.com/3hcQ47on3T
Valentina Orellana-Peralta had dreams of becoming an American citizen and studying robotics. The 14-year-old was a strong student in math and physics. Her father showed a skateboard his daughter had ordered online for Christmas, saying that she will now skate with the angels. "The girl's American dream has been taken from her," Valentina's uncle Rodrigo Orellana told CNN. "Everyone fled to the dressing rooms and, unfortunately, the bullet found her. They're supposed to be the best police department in the world and they shot her," he said.
14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta was shopping for a Christmas dress when she was killed by police opening fire in the store. She'd moved to the U.S. less than a year ago.— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 29, 2021
"This is what my daughter found here: death," her father cried on Tuesday. https://t.co/QmBopbPmvj
"I have no words to describe what I'm going through, especially during this holiday season," Valentina's father said. "I cannot sleep... All she wanted was to become a American citizen. 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 board of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents LAPD officers, has released a statement offering its condolences on Tuesday. "Words cannot convey our utter sorrow over the loss of Valentina Orellana-Peralta," the statement said. "We pray for Valentina's family as they cope with this unbearable tragedy and we also pray for the officer involved in this incident as he is devastated over what occurred." The officer who fired the fatal shot is currently on administrative leave while the California Attorney General's Office investigates, the LAPD has said.
Cover Image Source: YouTube/CBS Los Angeles