Los Angeles County Sheriffs deputies accidentally shot and killed a teenager when their bullets bounced off the ground as they opened fire on an aggressive dog, officials said.
The 17-year-old teenager was struck in the chest by at least one "skip" round several yards from the deputies, who may not have noticed the teenager in the darkness when they fired several rounds at a charging pit bull on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Moments earlier, the dog had bitten one of the deputies in the knee and the teenager had restrained the animal so that it wouldn't attack again. The deputy bitten by the dog was also struck by a fragment of a bullet that bounced off the ground in the shooting. A family member identified the teen as Armando Garcia, who had attended R. Rex Parris High School in Palmdale.
In a news conference at the scene hours after the shooting, Capt. Christopher Bergner of the Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau said it appeared that both the teen and the deputy had been struck by rounds that ricocheted off the ground when deputies fired at the charging animal.
"He may have been struck by one of the skip rounds in what we're calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident," Bergner said. "Our initial impression was (the deputies) didn't even see the individual coming around from the side of the building."
Authorities said deputies had gone to an apartment complex in response to a call about a loud party. As they arrived, a pit bull charged at them and bit one of the deputies in the left knee, Bergner said. The teenager, restrained the animal and brought it to the rear of the complex, which was around a corner, Bergner said.
Meanwhile, the deputies retreated from the home to call for backup and medical units, who arrived and checked on the bitten deputy's injuries. Garcia's aunt, Amber Alcantar, said deputies told her the teen was shot while trying to stop the dog from attacking deputies a second time.
Alcantar said she heard a knock on her door in the early morning. It was Garcia's friend, who was frantically looking for the boy's mother. "Obviously something was wrong," the aunt said. She and Garcia's mother went to two hospitals in search of him, but couldn't find him and eventually returned home.
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