The 14-year-old girl, whose life was cut off Thursday when an LAPD officer shot her inside a Burlington clothing store in North Hollywood, appeared to be in her adopted country.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta came to the United States from Chile with her mother, Soledad Peralta, about half a year ago to visit her older sister, who worked at a restaurant.
“Valentina was a shy girl in Chile, but everything went well for her in the United States,” her aunt Carolina Peralta, 51, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “She caught up with English and was more outgoing. She was happy to be with her big sister.”
Valentina was born and raised in the Macul working-class neighborhood of Santiago, the capital of Chile. Her father, Juan Pablo Orellana, was a bank assistant, her aunt said.
Soledad Peralta and her younger daughter had decided to reunite the family in the United States. They worked on documentation to become permanent in the country.
Valentina’s father traveled to Los Angeles on Sunday. The family went online to ask the police to release footage of the shooting and raise money for travel. Carolina Peralta said they are being legally advised on the next steps.
The funeral is expected to be on January 3rd.
Carolina Peralta said Valentina liked listening to reggaeton and that her niece and her mother were shopping on the day of recording.
“Valentina died in the arms of her mother inside the locker room,” her aunt said. “My sister does not understand how this tragedy could have happened just when they had managed to reunite the family.”
For the record:
00:54 28 December 2021An earlier 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 around 6 p.m. 11:45 a.m. Thursday about an assault with a deadly weapon in the North Hollywood store in the 12100 block of Victory Boulevard. Shortly afterwards, officers shot the suspect a short distance from a woman he had allegedly assaulted.
The man, identified by the forensic pathologist in Los Angeles County as Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, was fatally shot in the chest. The unidentified woman he allegedly assaulted was admitted for treatment.
Only after the shooting, as they searched the store, did officers find Valentina in a locker room; she had been hit by a police officer who 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 shards of glass near the store’s front doors before going inside to the locker rooms on the second floor.
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 objects. He described it as “a horrible scene.”
“I do not know how many shots there were,” he said, “but there was a lot of blood.”
Jorge Poblete is a Special Correspondent in Santiago, Chile.