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California deputies shoot, kill 13-year-old carrying fake rifle

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:40 p.m. HST, Oct 23, 2013

SANTA ROSA, Calif. >> A Northern California community is anguished over the fatal police shooting of a popular, 13-year-old boy who had been carrying a pellet 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 today.

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 about 50 miles 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 deputies acted appropriately when they decided to fire on such a young person.

"I'm sure you can tell he's a 13-year-old boy," Abrey Martin told KGO-TV. "He's not some maniac."

Andy, an eighth-grade student who played trumpet in his school band, was described as a bright and popular student, liked by many in his community, including Lawrence Cook Middle School assistant principal Linsey Gannon.

"Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable," Gannon said Wednesday. "Our community has been rocked by his loss."

Even members of law enforcement expressed sympathy.

In a statement, 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.

"As a father of two boys about this age, I can't begin to imagine the grief this family is going through," he said.

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.

A neighbor in the area, Brian Zastrow, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat he heard seven shots.

"First, I heard a single siren and within seconds I heard seven shots go off, sounded like a nail gun, is what I thought it was," he said.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

At today'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.

"I told him what I tell him every day," he said in Spanish. "Behave yourself."

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OregonRedRaider wrote:
wow..... that sucks...
on October 23,2013 | 05:12AM
Uncleart66 wrote:
Why shoot to kill? How about a nice shot in the leg and than ask questions.
on October 24,2013 | 03:53AM
mokebla wrote:
AK-47 look alike, are you kidding me! The most deadliest handheld weapon on this planet. I hope 66 is not your age cause you would know what a AK-47 can do.
on October 24,2013 | 05:09AM
Bergonia wrote:
Apparently you have never shot a hand gun before. It's easier said than done to shot the hand, the leg, the head, etc. The truth is, handguns are accurate to about 25 yards. Past 25 yards, the shot pattern gets somewhat erratic. You shoot center mass at the body because it is the largest area. It gives you a better chance of hitting. I can almost guarantee that not all 7 rounds hit the person. If all seven rounds did hit, then I would question if the police over did it. A normal person would have hit the ground bleeding after 2 hits.
on October 24,2013 | 09:47AM
mokebla wrote:
Pay attention people, this is not a test. This is real, Sonoma County sheriff's deputies had repeatedly asked the boy, Andy Lopez, to drop the weapon. What part of that the kid didn't understand? He goes to school understands English and these are police officers. What is wrong with this picture? We can't be liberals on this cause its black and white, right answer or wrong answer. You can't say "But," cause it will cost you your life. Did the kid do the wrong thing? Yes, it cost him his life. Parents talk to your kids and teacher talk to your students what is right and what is wrong, never ever tell them about the "But" word cause it will only get you in trouble. This come out of the book of life, read it and understand it and you'll make the right decisions in life. They don't teach you this in school, they don't believe in the book of life. Selah~ RR4L
on October 24,2013 | 05:04AM
Maipono wrote:
California is so screwed up! Stay away at all cost.
on October 23,2013 | 05:42AM
Anonymous wrote:
Thanks for the smart advice, Maipono. Because of this incident, I will not step foot on California soil ever again!
on October 24,2013 | 02:43PM
kiragirl wrote:
Talk about "jumping the gun".
on October 23,2013 | 06:08AM
Hawaiians wrote:
Could say that again!
on October 23,2013 | 06:17AM
WKAMA wrote:
Seems to me deputies should take cover first, assess the situation before firing. Trigger happy cowboys!
on October 23,2013 | 06:10AM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
There was a school shooting involving intermediate-aged students just two days ago. Why don't you think before you step out of your little bubble to shoot your mouth off?
on October 23,2013 | 06:37AM
WKAMA wrote:
I'm thinking if the boy is not pointing the rifle at the cops should they fire first?
on October 23,2013 | 10:12AM
Bergonia wrote:
This is the hard part about commenting. Without all the facts, we are just filling in void to make our case. I read on another news website, the boy turn around and pointed the AK47 at the police. If that website is right, then yes, the police should shoot first.
on October 24,2013 | 10:26AM
HOSSANA wrote:
give me a break....playing an arm chair quarterback....take cover first and then asses the situation....that's B.S. nothing more and nothing less...
on October 23,2013 | 06:59AM
false wrote:
But aren't these law enforcement people trained for a situation before shooting? Just wondering.
on October 23,2013 | 09:17AM
AhiPoke wrote:
Actually, I'd expect the general rule would be to shot first, ask questions later. In most situations that I've heard of, security guards are taught to not wait until a potential offender strikes first. If they allow the other person to strike they lose their advantage. Obviously a serious mistake but I'd guess the officers were acting as they were trained.
on October 23,2013 | 11:05AM
mokebla wrote:
If you live by the "But" word, you could end up the same way.
on October 24,2013 | 05:12AM
Hawaiians wrote:
That is insane he was just a kid who could have been caught like a deer in the headlights-frozen scared, careless move cowboys!
on October 23,2013 | 06:17AM
Jca43 wrote:
Nope, not insane, a13 year old can pull the trigger just as good as a 23 year old. Tactically a rifle will out do hand guns in shoot outs most the time. The police had very little wiggle room. Once a rifleman turns, there is no time to watch and wait. Once the rifle is aimed and locked on sight, police are done, they've lost any tactical advantage. The problem is society in general. When someone with authority commands us to do something, we think we can still do our own thing. This is true with regards to respect for law enforcement. When police ask a gunman to drop your weapon, they really mean drop your weapon, not think about it. Time and time again police are killed in action by waiting too long, they freeze up for a variety of reason like the one you mentioned. In the end it's them who end up in a body bag, leaving family and children behind.
on October 23,2013 | 07:24PM
mokebla wrote:
What a lo lo kanaka, like is said you can't teach or change Stup*d! Don't make us Hawaiian look bad, think before you speak.
on October 24,2013 | 05:15AM
HanabataDays wrote:
The ends of the barrels of all "replica" weapons, by law, are required to be clearly and visibly colored red. Both criminals and innocent kids sometimes paint over or otherwise cover up the red portion -- for entirely different reasons, of course -- to make these fake guns look more real. If that's what happened in this case, it's still a tragedy of course, but it'd be a lot harder to blame the cops. What a shame, either way. Auwe!
on October 23,2013 | 06:36AM
false wrote:
Remember the days when you and the boys played army and carried your toys guns in the neighborhood? Those day have been gone a long time ago since the electronic games arrived. LOL
on October 23,2013 | 09:19AM
krusha wrote:
Boy didn't even draw his gun, since they found the gun still in his waistband. Trigger happy cops probably will be exonerated by internal affairs with the usual blah blah "their actions were justified" statement...
on October 23,2013 | 06:45AM
hawaiikone wrote:
. He had a AK47 looking rifle, and a handgun in his waistband. What occurred between the time cops told him to drop the weapon and the shooting we may never know.
on October 23,2013 | 07:15AM
mokebla wrote:
Like I said you can't teach or c
on October 24,2013 | 05:16AM
HOSSANA wrote:
Kid was trying to act big-time and how are the deputies to know that the gun was a replica or a fake......no, kid never surrendered the weopons and so they shot him....nothing more and nothing less......esp. what happened in the middle school in sacramento.
on October 23,2013 | 06:58AM
eoe wrote:
When the NRA gets its way everybody is waking around armed. Bullets flying everywhere! Can't wait!
on October 23,2013 | 07:23AM
boshio wrote:
I really don't know who is worst for america, the NRA, or, the Tea Party.
on October 23,2013 | 07:31AM
redneckMT wrote:
on October 23,2013 | 07:46AM
copperwire9 wrote:
on October 23,2013 | 09:36AM
redneckMT wrote:
Stupid comment.
on October 23,2013 | 07:45AM
saveparadise wrote:
A child is dead and all you can think about is your personal agenda against the NRA?? Very creative and very thoughtful of you to find them to blame. Why not blame them for shark attacks and global warming while you are at it. Condolences to the family.
on October 23,2013 | 11:52AM
DABLACK wrote:
Keep blaming people except the right individuals !! What happened to the parents ?? Whats their excuse ??
on October 23,2013 | 07:34AM
Leinanij wrote:
One would hope that police/sheriff departments learn how to wound before killing, especially when faced with a child.
on October 23,2013 | 08:13AM
mrluke wrote:
What an @sinine comment. Comes from watching too many old westerns.
on October 23,2013 | 08:44AM
Nevadan wrote:
Agree with Leina. It's common sense.
on October 23,2013 | 11:16AM
XML808 wrote:
What a tragedy. If only the kid had obeyed the law enfocement officers, he'd be alive today.
on October 23,2013 | 08:26AM
Russkar wrote:
When the Police say "drop the gun" that means drop the gun...
on October 23,2013 | 09:04AM
s_and_b wrote:
based on the way cops are nowadays... i would question whether they even said "drop the gun" to the kid!
on October 23,2013 | 02:29PM
islandsun wrote:
Whats the matter the boy didn't understand English? Was he a recent immigrant or something. You don't walk around with a real looking gun, especially with all the school shootings done by these young kids. Don't let these folks in unless they can speak the lick.
on October 23,2013 | 09:14AM
false wrote:
Story never says what happen with the deputies told him to drop the rifle and only the deputies can say. Did the boy point the gun at them? Did he make an aggressive move? A lot of questions need to be asked here but it depends who does the asking.
on October 23,2013 | 09:15AM
gobows wrote:
no understand english.
on October 23,2013 | 09:20AM
bullturd wrote:
Let me figure this one out. I presume the kid was told to drop the gun in English, Spanish, was deaf or was listing to music on his phone with two ear buds and that's why he didn't drop the gun. No the liberals saying the cops should not have shot the kid because........they don't know because their liberal tree huggers. Of course I feel sorry for the boy and his parents. That is a tragic loss. Now what if, after the fact, that it was a real weapon.....
on October 23,2013 | 10:20AM
ohaibill1 wrote:
Remember when HPD shot a naked guy in an elevator in Waikiki? He must have been a scary dude.
on October 23,2013 | 10:36AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Words cannot describe the anguish of a parent when a child is killed. For those who make little of that child's death and blame him entirely for the whole tragedy, may karma come back to haunt them. He was but a child. We don't know the whole story regarding this boy and it is possible that he had mental disability that rendered him unable to make a wise decision at the time. Children will be children. That is why have laws that protect them from adults who would take advantage of that fact. As for those sheriffs deputies, it does sound as if the decision to shoot was extreme. Again, we don't know all the details. But it will come out with time. If in fact they made the wrong decision, they will have to answer to the family of the boy and the community.
on October 23,2013 | 10:29AM
Bumby wrote:
All parents educate your children about these toy guns or rifles that look like the real thing. Those things should not be displayed or carried in public areas. When told to drop those toy guns do so as asked or ordered by law enforcement and put your hands in the air immediately. Don't make any unnecessary moves and follow their command. Best thing to do is play with those toy guns only at home. So sad when a parent loses a child.
on October 23,2013 | 10:47AM
Bully wrote:
Drop the gun or we will shoot means exactly that, follow directions and you live another day.
on October 23,2013 | 11:05AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Kids want to act like an adult? Then the adult rules will apply.
on October 23,2013 | 11:21AM
paradiddle wrote:
Too many unanswered questions to make any judgment (i.e. did the boy understand/speak English, did he respond verbally in any way, did he point the replica rifle at the officers or react in any way that appeared to be a threat, why did he have a replica rifle WITHOUT the tell-tale colored tip}. Let's hope the sheriffs had a camera in their patrol car that can provide some answers. In any event, a tragic situation that is sure to bring out a lot of negative posts.
on October 23,2013 | 11:41AM
lowtone123 wrote:
It already has
on October 23,2013 | 01:52PM
false wrote:
Wow! So many different personal opinions and Wednesday quarterbacks. Do we know what actually took place at the scene other than what the media wrote? It's easy to put blame on the officers for doing what they had to do, but I have yet to hear how any of you would have handled this situation, especially when the command to drop the "replica AK-47" was repeated over and over. Not knowing what law enforcement officers have learned during the course of their training or the steps taken prior to the use of their weapon, bogus opinionated comments without knowing what actually took place should be withheld unless you are able to tell us how you would have handled the situation.
on October 23,2013 | 12:17PM
environmental_lady wrote:
How ironic that at the bottom of the article there's a news video of a 14-year-old who shot a teacher. When children kill with guns of course the police have to intervene. It's damned if you do and damned if you don't. If they didn't intervene and later a kid shot someone else, then the police would be blamed for not preventing a tragedy. The lesson of it is that carrying a gun courts disaster like playing with matches or picking up a military device. Yes, I feel sorry for the parents for losing their kid and now they're asking why. Don't they realize how many kids kill other kids with guns and replicas can be easily mistaken?
on October 23,2013 | 01:52PM
stanmanley wrote:
One day I was driving along Kapiolani Blvd. with my window down and then I heard a "click." to the right of me. My first initial thought was, "Oh, no... this is it!" As I turned I saw a replica semi auto gun towards me with an orange tip and a child holding it. I realize then it was a toy and was relieved. I looked at the parent and smiled and thought, this is your lucky day.
on October 23,2013 | 02:18PM
hanalei395 wrote:
You smiled at that stupid parent and the unlearned kid?
on October 23,2013 | 03:24PM
localguy wrote:
Sad to say Cops have the mistaken impression everyone will instantly respond to their yelled commands. They fail to understand not everyone is capable of doing this. They failed to ensure the child spoke English, didn't have a learning disability, was not deaf, on and on and on. They try to spin their murder of innocent people by saying, "They failed to follow my yelled commands." Really? There was no reason they could not have waited, done some more checking, used body shields. They failed to act like adults and now they may be charged with murder. This is happening way too many times and Police had better get a handle on it before they end up in prison on murder charges. Where is Police Commissioner Frank Reagan when we need him?
on October 23,2013 | 04:43PM
Bergonia wrote:
I wonder if the squad car had a camera? It would help fill in a lot of unknown. The only fact is that the police shot and killed a teenage boy. I don't think anyone would dispute this. However, the circumstance is all speculation on the part of the news agency and people commenting on what happen.
on October 24,2013 | 10:30AM
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