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A mother whose 14-year-old girl was killed by a stray police bullet in a clothes shop in Los Angeles last week says her daughter died in her arms.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta and her mother, who moved to the US from Chile, were in the store when an officer fired at a suspect who was attacking a woman.
The bullet pierced a wall and hit her.
Soledad Peralta wept as she described begging officers to help treat her injured daughter, saying they had “just left her laying there”.
The girl’s father, Juan Pablo Orellana, who flew to Los Angeles from Chile, told reporters his daughter had once told him the US was “the safest country in the world”.
He said the actions of the police officers involved had been negligent, adding: “I will not rest until the last day, until all these criminals are in jail.”
LA Police Chief Michel Moore has promised a “thorough, complete and transparent investigation” into what he called a “chaotic incident”.
In a statement read by a lawyer, Valentina’s mother recounted how she and her daughter had heard a commotion and screaming outside the changing room while trying on dresses for a birthday party at a North Hollywood department store last Thursday.
They had sat down together, hugged each other and prayed.
Mrs Peralta said she had felt something hit her daughter, throwing them both to the ground.
Valentina’s body “went limp”, she said, and she “tried to wake her up by shaking her, but she didn’t wake up”.
She screamed for help, but no one came.
“When the police finally came, they took me out of the dressing room and left my daughter laying there. I wanted them to help her, but they just left her laying there alone.”
Mrs Peralta said seeing a son or daughter die in your arms is one of the “most profound pains any human being can imagine”.
Police had been responding to reports that a man was acting erratically inside the store and attacking customers with a heavy bike lock. He was also shot dead.
Emergency calls included reports that the suspect had a gun, but no firearm was found.
Police bodycam footage shows officers closing in on the man with their guns drawn as he bludgeons a woman.
An officer opened fire with a rifle and the 24-year-old suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, died at the scene.
Police believe a bullet skipped off the floor and struck the dressing room wall, the Associated Press reports.
The unnamed woman who was attacked by the suspect was found with moderate to serious injuries, including wounds to her head, arms and face.
Valentina’s family said the 14-year-old had loved skateboarding. Mr Orellana showed reporters a skateboard bought for her as a Christmas present. He said he would now “have to take it to the grave, so she can skate with the angels”.
“It is like my whole heart has been ripped out of my body,” he added.
“The pain of opening the Christmas presents for her that have been delivered for Christmas Day cannot be articulated.”
Valentina had been in the US for about six months and had already earned good grades at her new high school.
On their way to the store on the day she died, Valentina told her mother about her desire to continue getting good grades and eventually become an engineer and a US citizen, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Image source, Getty Images
Original Article: bbc.co.uk