A 14-year-old girl was shot and killed by police who opened fire on a Los Angeles department store while pursuing a suspect.
The girl, whose name has not been released, was killed just before noon on Thursday while she was in a dressing room at a Burlington store in the San Fernando Valley’s North Hollywood neighbourhood.
Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) arrived at the store responding a call about a male suspect accused of assaulting a woman with a deadly weapon, Captain Stacy Spell told a news conference.
Mr Spell said police began firing when they saw the suspect engaged in an assault on another person.
The suspect was struck by the officers’ bullets and killed.
At least one bullet penetrated the walls of the dressing room, where the teenage girl was found dead.
Investigators have yet to determine whether the girl was in the dressing room when the gunfire started, or if she ran in there to hide.
“You can’t see into the dressing rooms, and it looks just like a straight wall of drywall,” LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said.
Mr Choi said details surrounding the suspect are also still unclear, including his motive and whether he knew the woman he allegedly assaulted in the store.
The woman was transported to hospital with injuries to her head, arms and face. It wasn’t immediately known if she had been shot.
A heavy metal cable lock recovered near the suspect may have been used in the assault, police said.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta confirmed the state Department of Justice is investigating the shooting.
Imelda Garcia told the Associated Press her sister works in the store and was on break when she heard gunshots and everyone started running.
Ms Garcia said she spoke to her sister on the phone and that she’s OK but sounded “really nervous”.
Police escorted people out of the store nearly two hours after the shooting.
The shooting recalled a 21 July 2018, confrontation in which LAPD officers accidentally shot and killed a woman at a Trader Joe’s market.
Officers got into a gunfight with a man who authorities say shot his grandmother and girlfriend before leading police on a chase that ended when he crashed his car outside the market.
A police bullet killed Melyda Corado, 27, the assistant store manager, as she ran toward the store’s entrance after hearing the car crash.
The suspect, Gene Evin Atkins, took employees and shoppers hostage for three hours before surrendering, authorities said.
Atkins has pleaded not guilty to the killing.
Prosecutors found two police officers acted lawfully when they returned Atkins’ gunfire.
Associated Press contributed to this report