Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, October 2013
13-Year-Old Boy Andy Lopez Shot Dead by Police in Santa Rosa, California, for Carrying Plastic Replica of AK-47 Rifle
October 24, 2013
California police shoot and kill boy
carrying replica of assault rifle
boy carrying a replica of an assault rifle to a friend's house was shot
dead by a sheriff's deputy who believed the gun was real, authorities
Displaying a real AK-47 next to the plastic
one recovered from the scene, Henry pointed out the similarities in
their appearances. The pellet gun was shorter and lacked a bright orange
piece meant to mark it as a toy.
US boy with replica gun shot by
Only after the shooting did deputies realize the gun was a replica that looked strikingly similar to a real AK-47 assault rifle.
Residents of Santa Rosa, a suburban town of roughly 170,000 people northwest of San Francisco in California’s wine country, were shaken by the boy’s death. Many expressed their grief by leaving candles, teddy bears and flowers at the edge of the field where the teen was shot Tuesday afternoon.
Some community members wondered whether the
police acted appropriately when they decided to fire on such a young
In Sonoma County, Sheriff Steve Freitas said the shooting was a “tragedy” and that he would do everything he could to ensure the investigation was thorough and transparent.
After the deputies spotted the boy Tuesday,
they called for backup and repeatedly ordered him to drop the gun,
sheriff’s Lt. Dennis O’Leary said in a news release. His back was turned
toward the deputies, and they did not realize at the time that he was a
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies also found a plastic handgun in the boy’s waistband, O’Leary said. The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting, he said.
The boy’s family was back at their mobile
home Tuesday night after identifying the teen’s body, the Press Democrat
Also Wednesday, a child at a Southern California elementary school pulled the trigger of a police rifle, firing a bullet that shattered and created shrapnel that injured three youngsters, authorities said.
The AR-15 was locked to the side of a motorcycle that was on display at Newman Elementary School during an anti-drug program when a student managed to fire it, Chino police spokeswoman Tamrin Olden said.
A third student was examined at the school
and released to parents, she said.
There was no immediate word on whether a
police officer was nearby when the accidental discharge occurred.
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