A California police officer accidentally fatally shot a teenager early Thursday morning after officers opened fire at a charging pit bull and a bullet ricocheted off the ground, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced in a press release.
“It was what we’re calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident,” LASD Capt. Chris Bergner said at a Thursday morning news conference at the scene.
Around 3:40 a.m. Thursday, police received a call complaining of loud music coming from the apartment complex. When deputies arrived at the scene, an aggressive pit bull charged at the deputies and bit one in the leg.
The teen, who would later be the fatal victim, emerged from the complex and restrained the pit bull from the officers and brought him around the back of the apartment complex, authorities say.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
As officers tended to the bitten deputy, the pit bull came around again from the back of the house. This time, two deputies opened fire at the dog, firing six to eight rounds. The dog then retreated back to the rear of the complex.
As the deputies followed the dog to ensure it didn’t attack anyone else, they found the teenager lying on the ground, suffering from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the press release.
The 17-year-old has been identified as Armando Garcia-Muro. The deputies provided medical attention to Garcia-Muro while they waited for paramedics to arrive, but he died shortly after being transported to the hospital, the press release states.
Garcia-Muro had just completed his junior year of high school. He was the eldest of four siblings and aspired to go into construction work, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The bitten deputy, who had also been hit with an errant bullet, was transported to a local hospital and is in stable condition, according to the press release.
The pit bull, who was also hit by the deputies’ bullets, will be euthanized.
Under the departments use of force policy, deputies are permitted to shoot at animals if they “reasonably believe that death or serious physical injury is about to be inflicted upon themselves or others.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that a friend of Garcia-Muro’s arrived at her door early in the morning, holding a pair of Garcia-Muro’s bloody shoes.
“That’s how good of a person he was,” Garcia-Muro’s Aunt Amber Alcantar told CBS Los Angeles. “He put his life on the line for an animal that wasn’t even his.”
The investigation is ongoing, according to the release.