Armando Garcia was hanging out at a friend's apartment listening to music early Thursday morning when the dog started barking.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies soon responded to reports of "loud music" from the Palmdale, California, apartment complex at around 3:40 a.m. When deputies arrived, an aggressive pit bull charged from the darkness and bit one of them in the knee.
Armando, a 17-year-old high school student, came out from behind the apartment and pulled the dog back around a corner to the rear of the building, the sheriff's department said.
While waiting for paramedics to arrive to aid the injured deputy, the pit bull re-emerged and charged at them again. The deputies opened fire, striking the dog from about five to seven feet away. The wounded animal then scuttled back to a carport area and deputies followed it to try and corral the dog. That's when they found Armando.
The teen was lying on the ground in the dark with a gunshot wound to the chest.
“He may have been struck by one of the skip rounds in what we’re calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident,” said LASD Capt. Christopher Bergner. “Our initial impression was [the deputies] didn’t even see the individual coming around from the side of the building.”
Armando later died at a local hospital.
The deputy who was bitten by the dog was also hit by a bullet fragment to his right leg and is in stable condition.
Amber Alcantar, Garcia’s aunt, told the Los Angeles Times that her nephew was shot while trying to stop the pit bull from attacking deputies a second time.
The soon-to-be senior had recently transferred to R. Rex Parris High School "to get his credits up so he could graduate high school," Genevie Escobar, Armando's ex-girlfriend and one of his best friends, told BuzzFeed News.
"He had started out bad but he wanted to change his life around," she said, explaining how Armando struggled inside and out of school because "he didn't come from a great family and didn't have a role model to look up to."
Armando always stayed positive and "loved to make people happy," by goofing around and doing impressions, she said. He was outgoing and believed everything happened for a reason.
The 17-year-old, who had a younger sister and two brothers, had recently moved back home and was seeking a job to help support them and his mother, who was raising the children on her own.
"She can't talk because all she can do is cry," Genevie said. "This didn't have to be the way he had to leave."
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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