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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


Andy Lopez was shot dead by a Santa Rosa police officer as he walked down the street carrying a pellet gun modelled on an assault rifle. Photograph: AP/The Press Democrat


California police shoot and kill boy carrying replica of assault rifle
Santa Rosa officer opened fire on Andy Lopez Cruz, 13, as he walked down street carrying pellet gun, authorities say
Reuters in Santa Rosa
, Wednesday 23 October 2013 23.34 EDT

A 13-year-old California 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 have said.
The incident took place in Santa Rosa, northern California, on Tuesday, a day after a 12-year-old boy killed a teacher at a Nevada middle school with a gun he then used to take his own life.

The Santa Rosa boy's father said his son, Andy Lopez Cruz, a middle schooler who played the saxophone and liked basketball and boxing, was shot while on his way to a friend's house with a pellet gun that had been left at the family home over the weekend.

"It's not right what they did to my son," said the father, Rodrigo Lopez, as he sat with friends and family on Wednesday outside Santa Rosa City Hall in a quiet protest.
Lieutenant Paul Henry, who is investigating the incident for the Santa Rosa police department, said two Sonoma county sheriff's deputies had been patrolling a street near the boy's home on Tuesday when they saw him walking with what appeared to be an assault weapon in his left hand.

One of the deputies, who did not immediately realise that the person he was seeing from behind was a child, shouted twice: "Put down the gun," according to Henry and a police statement.

"The subject turned toward the deputies, and as he was doing that the barrel of the weapon was rising toward the deputies," Henry said. The deputy then fired rounds, killing the boy.

The incident took place against a backdrop of growing concern about officer-involved shootings in California, where a spate of such incidents in the city of Anaheim, south-east of Los Angeles, prompted protests in 2012. Concern over seven fatal officer-involved shootings in three years in Sonoma County prompted calls in 2000 for a civilian review board but none was established.

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.
Pellet guns, which use compressed air or other gases to fire pellets or spherical balls, are sometimes manufactured to resemble assault weapons. Police also found a plastic handgun tucked into the boy's pants.
"It's a tragic event," Henry said. "It's tragic for the family, the community and the deputies."

Andy Lopez's family said he had been sent home from school early on Tuesday after staying out of the grounds too long on a break. In the afternoon he took the pellet gun, which had been left by another child, and made plans to see a friend, Luis Diaz. Later, when he did not return home, the Lopez family called the friend's home and found out he had never arrived.
Rodrigo Lopez said he then stepped outside, saw the police cars and commotion and eventually realizing that the body on the ground was his son.

The officers involved in the shooting had been placed on administrative leave as standard procedure, officials said, and the incident was being investigated by the Santa Rosa police department and other law enforcement agencies.

US boy with replica gun shot by police

Khaleej Times, (AP) / 24 October 2013

A Northern California community is anguished over the fatal police shooting of a popular, 13-year-old boy who had been carrying a replica gun that looked like an assault rifle.

Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies had repeatedly asked the boy, Andy Lopez, to drop the weapon, but instead he raised it in their direction, police said at a news conference Wednesday.

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 person.
Meanwhile, two U.S. boys of similar ages have been accused of killing school teachers in separate incidents this week. On Monday in the neighbouring state of Nevada, a middle school teacher was allegedly shot by a 12-year-old student. And on Tuesday, prosecutors in Massachusetts say a 14-year-old student killed a math teacher.

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 boy.
According to the Santa Rosa police, the boy was about 20 to 30 feet from them when he turned toward the deputies with the gun and they opened fire.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Santa Rosa police displayed the pellet gun, which resembled an AK-47 with a black magazine and brown butt.

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 reported.
Andy’s father, Rodrigo Lopez, told the newspaper that he last saw his son Tuesday morning. He also said the gun was a toy that belonged to a friend of his son’s.

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.
The children were treated for cuts and scrapes, said Fire Department spokeswoman Massiel Ladron De Guevara.
The weapons mount holding the rifle had several fail-safes, including the metal plate, Olden said.

There was no immediate word on whether a police officer was nearby when the accidental discharge occurred.
Rifles have been removed from other police motorcycles while the shooting is investigated, Olden said at a news conference.

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