A Los Angeles police officer opened fire on a man who was involved in an assault at a clothing store on Thursday, and one of the shots pierced a wall, killing a 14-year-old girl in a dressing room, the police said.
The shooting happened at a Burlington store in North Hollywood during the busy holiday shopping season after the police received reports at about 11:45 a.m. of an assault with a deadly weapon and possible shots fired, the police said. Some of the callers said they were hiding in the store, the police said.
When the officers arrived, they went upstairs and found a man who was assaulting a woman, the police said. The police opened fire, killing the man, whose name was not immediately released, the police said.
Officers found a heavy metal lock near the man but no gun, Dominic H. Choi, an assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, said at a news conference.
A woman who had been assaulted was taken to the hospital with injuries to her head and arms, Chief Choi said. Her relationship to the suspect was not immediately known, he said.
As officers continued to search the store, they noticed a hole in the wall, Chief Choi said. Behind the wall, they found the 14-year-old girl who had been shot and killed in the dressing room.
The teenager had been in the dressing room with her mother, the Los Angeles Police chief, Michel R. Moore, told LAist.com, adding that the shooting was the “worst thing anyone can imagine.” The police did not immediately release the girl’s name.
Chief Choi described the encounter as a “tragic and unfortunate sequence of events” and said it remained under investigation. He said that the investigation had indicated that the girl had been fatally shot by the police.
“Preliminarily, we believe that round was an officer’s round,” he said.
He said investigators had not yet reviewed body-camera video or the store’s security-camera footage, although it appeared the dressing room had been in the officer’s line of fire.
“The dressing room was behind where the suspect was, in front of the officer,” Chief Choi said, adding: “You can’t see into the dressing rooms. It just looks like a straight wall of drywall.”
California’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, said the California Department of Justice was investigating the shooting.
Once the investigation has been completed, it will be turned over to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section for review, he said.
Burlington, which was formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, said in a statement that it was supporting the authorities in their investigation.
“At Burlington, our hearts are heavy as a result of the tragic incident that occurred today at our North Hollywood, Calif., store,” the company said. “Our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our customers and associates.”
Azi Paybarah contributed reporting.