Police shot and killed a 17-year-old Hispanic boy in Palmdale, California, after a bullet intended to hit a dog ricocheted off the ground and hit the teen in the chest. Deputies called the event an "extremely unfortunate incident."
The accident occurred on June 22 at 3:45 a.m. local time after police responded to a report of loud music at a single-story apartment. KTLA reports that police had visited the same apartment four times in the past two months for loud music and gang-related incidents.
Capt. Christopher Bergner said that a 3-year-old gray pit bull weighing about 60 to 65 pounds "aggressively charged and attacked one of the deputies" upon the officers' arrival on the scene. Armando Garcia-Muro, 17, came out from behind the apartment complex and restrained the dog from further attacking the deputy, whom the dog had bitten on the knee.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the police retreated temporarily while they called for medical help and backup units. Shortly thereafter, the dog ran out from behind the apartment complex and attacked again.
The sheriff's office said that two of the five deputies on the scene fired shots at the dog from a 5- to 7-foot distance. The dog then retreated to a carport near the apartment building.
Police reportedly tried to corral the dog behind the complex to prevent further injuries. It was then that they noticed Armando on the ground. He was transported to Antelope Valley Hospital, where he later died of his injury.
"He may have been struck by one of the skip rounds in what we’re calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident," said Bergner. "Our initial impression was [the deputies] didn’t even see the individual coming around from the side of the building."
The sheriff's office said that they believe Armando may have been about 40 feet away from where the shooting occurred when he was hit.
In addition to the boy, the police officer who was bitten was also hit in a leg by a ricocheted bullet. He was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition. The dog was also shot and survived, but will be euthanized.
The dog's owner, who initially declined to identify herself to The Los Angeles Times because of "too many things going on with the law," was later named as Lolita Robinson by KTLA.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Robinson's house is a hangout spot for many kids in the local neighborhood.
"They are all my friends," she said. "They are good kids. They come over and they listen to music."
Robinson told KTLA that "the dog was not aggressive."
"I watched the dog grow up, that’s a puppy. It grew up around my grandkids. He’s not aggressive at all, so I’m not understanding why they’re saying he was aggressive and bit an officer."
Armando's mother, Roberta Alcantar, said the boy was "a very loving person" who wanted to go into construction. He was the eldest of four children and was scheduled to enter his senior year of high school later this year.
Amber Alcantar, Armando's aunt, said her nephew died due to trying to save his friend's dog.
"From what I hear, they had already shot the dog," she told KTLA. "So why did they keep shooting?"
ABC reports that an investigation must occur whenever there is a deputy-involved shooting.
The incident is currently still being investigated by multiple bureaus. Meanwhile, the involved officers have been placed on desk duty.