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A ‘shy girl’ from Chile, shot by LAPD while shopping, died in her mother’s arms

Flowers on the ground in tribute to slain 14-year-old
Flowers are left in memory of Valentina Orellana-Peralta, the 14-year-old fatally shot by police at a Burlington store in North Hollywood.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The 14-year-old girl whose life was cut short Thursday when an LAPD officer shot her inside a Burlington clothing store in North Hollywood seemed to be finding herself in her adopted country.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta came to the U.S. from Chile with her mother, Soledad Peralta, about six months ago to visit her older sister, who worked in a restaurant.

“Valentina was a shy girl in Chile, but everything was turning out well for her in the U.S.,” her aunt Carolina Peralta, 51, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “She was catching up with English and being more outgoing. She was happy to be with her older sister.”

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The LAPD released video of the fatal police shooting inside a Burlington clothing store last week that left a suspect and a 14-year-old girl dead.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta. Valentina was killed by Los Angeles police when they opened fire on a suspect
Valentina Orellana-Peralta.
(Carolina Peralta)

Valentina was born and raised in the working-class neighborhood of Macul in Santiago, Chile’s capital. Her father, Juan Pablo Orellana, was a bank clerk, her aunt said.

Soledad Peralta and her younger daughter had decided to reunite the family in the U.S. They were working on documentation to stay in the country permanently.

Valentina’s father traveled to Los Angeles on Sunday. The family took to the internet to ask police to release footage of the shooting and to raise money for travel. Carolina Peralta said they are being legally advised on next steps.

The funeral is expected to be Jan. 3.

Carolina Peralta said Valentina liked to listen to reggaeton and that her niece and her mother were shopping on the day of the shooting.

“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.”

Victim on the floor and a suspected attacker in a store
A fallen victim and the suspect in images released by the LAPD of the fatal Burlington store shooting.
(Los Angeles Police Department)

For the record:

12:54 a.m. Dec. 28, 2021A previous caption on the photo taken inside the store misidentified the person on the floor as Valentina Orellana-Peralta. The person has not been named by the LAPD.

According to police, officers responded to a call about 11:45 a.m. Thursday regarding an assault with a deadly weapon at the North Hollywood store in the 12100 block of Victory Boulevard. Soon after, the officers shot the suspect a short distance from a woman whom he had allegedly been assaulting.

The man, identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, was fatally shot in the chest. The unidentified woman he had allegedly been assaulting was hospitalized for treatment.

Only after the shooting, as they searched the store, did officers find Valentina in a dressing room; she had been struck by an officer’s round that had pierced a wall near Elena Lopez, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Edwin Arroyo, supervisor of Nancy’s Cleaning Services, spent Friday morning cleaning broken glass near the store’s front doors before heading inside to the second-floor dressing rooms.

There, he said, he saw blood smeared on a wall, on a cream-colored dress left on a hanger and on more than a dozen other items. He described it as “a horrible scene.”

“I don’t know how many gunshots there were,” he said, “but there was a lot of blood.”

Flowers were left in memory of Valentina Orellana-Peralta , 14, who was a shooting victim at the Burlington clothing store.
Flowers were left in memory of Valentina Orellana-Peralta.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Jorge Poblete is a special correspondent in Santiago, Chile.


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