The 14-year-old girl wanted to study robotics and become an American citizen but her dreams tragically ended just days before Christmas. The girl’s life was cut short after being fatally shot by police while she was in a clothing store. The victim’s father told reporters that his daughter once assured him that the U.S. was “the safest country in the world” after arriving in the U.S. from Chile with her mother and sister around six months back.
Moments before being struck by the stray bullet, the child’s mother, Soledad Peralta, remembers clutching her daughter, Valentina Orellana-Peralta, and praying in the dressing room. Through tears, Soledad recalled taking cover with Valentina after hearing screams while shopping for a Christmas outfit for her child, according to reports.
“We sat down and held each and prayed,” said Soledad. The next thing she knew, her child was lying lifeless on the floor. “She died in my arms,” said the heartbroken mother at a news conference outside the police headquarters.
“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,” she also said.
The victim’s distraught father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, flew into California from his native Chile after hearing the shocking news of his girl’s death. The victim’s father told reporters that his daughter once assured him that the U.S. was “the safest country in the world” after arriving in the U.S. from Chile with her mother and sister around six months back.
“I have no words to describe what I’m going through, especially during this holiday season,” said the devastated father according to reports. “I cannot sleep… All she wanted was to become an American citizen. I once told her, let’s leave this country. ‘No, papa. This is the safest country in the world, a country of opportunity.’ Now my daughter is dead at the hands of the,” he expressed.
“The girl’s American dream has been taken from her,” said the victim’s uncle, Rodrigo Orellana. “Everyone fled to 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 added.
“Never should this 14-year-old little girl end up as collateral damage at a shopping plaza,” said civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, one of many attorneys representing the family. Shortly after the outrage, the police officials released edited surveillance camera video and police body camera footage revealing the events that led up to the killing of the teen, according to reports.
A 24-year-old suspect, who was identified as Daniel Elena-Lopez, can be seen entering the Burlington Coat Factory store in North Hollywood along with his bike in the footage. Wearing a tank top and shorts, he takes the escalator with his bike. Then moments later, he returns donning a multicolored jacket and long pants. He then swings his bike lock at customers and attacks several female customers.
Many police bodycam videos show a woman covered in blood on the floor as cops arrive at the scene in an attempt to apprehend the culprit. Soon an officer can be heard firing three bullets towards Daniel, who eventually falls to the ground. An investigation has now been launched into the death of Valentina. Police Capt. Stacy Spell revealed that the incident will be reviewed by representatives from the California Department of Justice, the state Attorney General’s Office, and the Office of the Inspector General.