Los Angeles police says a shootout Sunday that left a 19-month-old girl dead occurred after officers attempted to rescue her girl by storming the used car dealership where her father was holding her hostage, reports the Los Angeles Times. Officers believed they had wounded Raul Peña and hoped they could save Susie Lopez, a pigtailed girl whose somber face adorned magazine ads for his car lot. Instead of rescuing the girl, officers found themselves in a gun battle inside the business’ cramped office. The gunfire ended with the suspect dead, an officer wounded, and Susie lying on the floor, shot in the head.
Police were not able to say when the girl was killed and who fired the shot. Police Chief William J. Bratton insisted that the officers had no choice but to enter the building, saying that Peña, had repeatedly fired into the street, holding the girl in front of him and threatening to kill her. The girl’s family disputed many details of the police account, arguing that the situation could have been resolved peacefully. Speaking of the officers involved, Bratton said, “This has been extraordinarily traumatic for them, wondering if they possibly contributed to the death of a child.”