The 24-year-old suspect, whose attack on shoppers at a North Hollywood department store led to a Los Angeles police shootout that killed him and a 14-year-old bystander, was up at the time, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday methamphetamine.
Daniel Elena-Lopez, who was shot once in the chest by police after assaulting a woman with a metal bicycle lock in a store aisle, also had marijuana in his system, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office found .
A separate autopsy for 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta shows that the girl, who was hiding in a dressing room with her mother at the time, also suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Police said one of several shots fired by the officer with the rifle penetrated a wall behind Elena-Lopez and hit Orellana-Peralta. The autopsy describes devastating injuries from the single bullet as it passed through Orellana-Peralta’s chest cavity and organs.
The autopsies shed new light on the circumstances behind the shooting, which drew widespread criticism and international condemnation of the police response to the girl’s death.
Valentina had come to the United States from her native Chile about six months before her death and dreamed of becoming an engineer and a US citizen.
Her parents have questioned the LAPD’s actions. Her mother, Soledad Peralta, was in the dressing room with her daughter when she was fatally shot.
“I will not rest until justice is done for my daughter,” her father, Juan Pablo Orellana, said during a news conference outside of downtown Los Angeles Police Department in late December.
The families’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
On the day of the shooting, several people had called 911 and asked police to respond to the Burlington store on Block 12100 of Victory Boulevard. At least one had claimed the man had a gun.
“There’s a guy with a gun,” the caller said, according to recordings released by the police to a dispatcher.
When the dispatcher inquired about the suspect’s race, the caller replied, “We don’t know, miss. It’s just gunshots.”
“So he fired the gun?” asked the dispatcher.
“Yes,” said the caller.
Video of the incident showed a group of LAPD officers bursting into the store in search of the suspect, with their approach based in part on a gunman’s report. A rifle-armed officer identified as Officer William Dorsey Jones Jr. quickly went to the front of the group.
When Jones saw a bloodied woman on the ground – who had just been hit with the bike lock by Elena-Lopez – he shouted, “She’s bleeding!” and rushed forward.
“Hold! Hold!” yelled another officer just before Jones saw Elena-Lopez standing at the end of a hallway and fired the rifle three times.
Elena-Lopez, who had no gun and had walked away from Jones and the victim when he was shot, slumped to the ground.
Police across the country are trained to rush into situations where there is an active shooter to stop the threat as quickly as possible. It’s a tactical approach that emerged in the US amid a wave of mass shootings.
Police officers have been criticized for not using it elsewhere – most recently in Uvalde, Texas, where officers waited an hour outside an elementary school where a gunman had killed more than 20 children and teachers and injured others.
However, critics of the LAPD’s response in Burlington noted that it was not an active shooting situation, that police had not heard or seen gunfire, and that Elena-Lopez did not have a gun.
Ben Crump, the high-profile attorney representing Valentina’s family, said the LAPD’s response was indefensible.
“We shouldn’t have to sacrifice an innocent life in the name of safety when it was foreseeable that two days before Christmas people would be shopping in a mall,” Crump said days after the shooting. “The family thinks things could have been done differently where Valentina would not have been collateral damage [and] would still be here and getting ready to celebrate Christmas.”
The shooting remains under investigation by the LAPD.
The department has also said it will review its deadly force use training following a 2021 spike in police shootings, including of unarmed suspects like Elena-Lopez.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore and other city officials have apologized to Valentina’s family, calling her death a tragedy. Moore has promised a thorough investigation.
Elena-Lopez’s autopsy found that his toxicology tests were “positive for methamphetamine, marijuana and their metabolites.”
The report noted that Elena-Lopez had a 1-year-old daughter.
The autopsy for Orellana-Peralta revealed that she had been shot in a dressing room after a bullet pierced the wall and a gray hooded sweatshirt was hanging from a hook.
The coroner noted that the girl’s glasses were still on her forehead, her cell phone was on the bench, and drywall dust from the bullet-pierced wall speckled her black pants.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-15/suspect-in-burlington-attack-in-which-lapd-killed-young-bystander-was-on-meth-autopsy-shows Suspect in Burlington attack before LAPD shooting on meth