Deputies opened fire on a charging pit bull early Thursday at a Palmdale home, but a round apparently skipped off the ground before fatally striking a 17-year-boy who had tried to restrain the dog, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies initially responded to the residence after receiving a complaint about a party. The dog charged at deputies outside the apartment complex in the 38000 block of 10th Street East in the high desert community north of Los Angeles, authorities said.
After the 65-pound dog bit a deputy on the knee, the boy took him behind the carport area. As the deputy was waiting for medical treatment, the dog returned and charged at deputies, two of whom opened fire, the sheriff's department said.
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The dog retreated to the rear of the complex, where deputies found the boy suffering from a gunshot wound to the upper body. An initial investigation indicated the bullet was likely a "skip round."
The dog was about 5 to 8 feet from deputies when they fired, according to the sheriff's department.
"This is an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident," said LASD Lt. Christopher Bergner. "The bullet hit the apron of the driveway, traveled about 30 to 40 feet back, and potentially hit this individual who was coming around the corner."
The boy died at a hospital, according to the sheriff's department. He was identified by relatives as Armando Garcia.
Community action groups and family members gathered for a memorial Thursday night, still comprehending his death and seeking answers about the shooting.
"Mando is a good kid," said his mother, Roberta Alcantar. "He did not deserve to die the way he died. I'm going to get to the bottom of it and it's going to get handled."
The dog was transported to animal control. Relatives of Garcia said he did not own the dog, but was trying to remove him from the scene. The dog will likely be euthanized, according to the sheriff's department.
One deputy was hospitalized with a bite wound to the left knee and a stray bullet wound to his right knee. He was expected to recover.
Deputies have responded to the location at least four times for loud music and gang activity in the past two months, the department said.
NBC4's Lolita Lopez and Ted Chen contributed to this report.