PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) — A deputy's bullet that was fired at a charging pit bull apparently ricocheted off the ground and hit and killed a 17-year-old boy who had been helping to restrain the dog, authorities said Thursday.
The dog, which belonged to the boy's neighbor, had already bitten one of the deputies and the teen had restrained it behind the apartment complex when it broke loose and charged again, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.
Deputies shot and wounded the dog when it was about 10 feet away, then chased it as it tried to run back behind the building, officials said. Only then did they see that the boy, who had been standing about 40 feet away, had also remerged from behind the building and had been hit in the chest by a so-called "skip round" that had ricocheted off the pavement. He died at a hospital about an hour later.
Sheriff's Capt. Christopher Bergner called it an "extremely, extremely unfortunate incident."
The deputy that had been bitten was also hit by a fragment that had struck the ground but had only minor injuries, officials said.
Animal control planned to euthanize the dog.
Sheriff's officials said in a statement and at a news conference that they found evidence of several shots having ricocheted off the ground, and concluded that one of those most likely killed the teen.
They did not elaborate further, and a message left with one of the homicide detectives on the case was not immediately returned.
The deputies had been called to the Palmdale complex at about 3:45 a.m. with complaints of a loud party.
Amber Alcantar, an aunt who also lives in the complex, told the Los Angeles Times that her nephew's name was Armando Garcia, a student at R. Rex Parris High School in Palmdale. She said a friend of her nephew came knocking on her door frantically looking for the boy's mother.
"Obviously something was wrong," Alcantar said.
She and the boy's mother went to two different hospitals looking for him, but could not find Garcia and returned home before learning he had died.