A 14-year-old who was in a California department store dressing room with her mother was killed on Thursday when a police officer outside fired at a man suspected in an attack, authorities said.
One of the shots penetrated a wall and entered a dressing room where the girl was killed, Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Dominic Choi told reporters during a press conference.
“Preliminary, we believe that round was an officer’s round,” Choi said.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said in a statement released late Thursday.
“I have directed the release of the critical incident video by Monday, December 27th, which will include the 9-1-1 calls, radio transmissions, body worn video and any CCTV and other evidence gathered at this preliminary stage,” the chief said.
According to the timeline provided by the LAPD, North Hollywood police officers responded to a radio call at 11:45am local time for an assault with a deadly weapon in progress at a business. On route, they received multiple calls that there was a “possible shooting in progress” and that people were sheltering in place, the LAPD said.
Upon arrival, they found a female who was bleeding and suffering from various injuries. They encountered the suspect a short distance away and “an officer involved shooting occurred,” the statement said.
During a subsequent search of the area, officers discovered a hole in the wall behind the suspect, which turned out to be a changing room containing the deceased teen, police said.
The investigation is ongoing, Choi said, and authorities have yet to interview the officers and witnesses.
Investigators do not know yet the motive of the suspect or what type of weapon the man was in possession of, although a steel or metal cable lock was found nearby and investigators believe it was involved, he said. However, no firearm has been recovered from the scene, Choi said.
Police do not believe there was any relation between the teenage victim and the other two parties involved in the incident, and that they don’t know what connection there was between the suspect and the assault victim.
The assault victim was transported to a local hospital with head and arm injuries, police said.