A 13-year-old Santa Rosa teen carrying a fake assault rifle was killed by Sonoma County deputies, FOX News reported October 23.
This tragedy occurred around 3 p.m.Tuesday when two Sonoma County deputies saw 13-year-old Andy Lopez carrying what appeared to be an AK-47 assault rifle as he walked home from school. The officers called for backup after reporting a "male subject" carrying a rifle.
The shooting occurred in the Moorland/West Robles neighborhood just went of Highway 101 when the deputies ordered Andy several times to drop the plastic rifle. Andy was shot multiple times and then handcuffed, reportedly falling on top of the fake weapon.
Deputies administered first aid, but Andy died at the scene. Along with the plastic assault rifle, Andy was also reported to have a plastic handgun in his waistband.
The boy's father, Rodrigo Lopez, said Andy was carrying a toy gun that belonged to a friend. Teens in the neighborhood liked playing games with low-power air guns that shoot pellets. It's unclear at this time whether the fake weapon was capable of firing pellets, BB's or other ammunition.
Those who knew Andy believe police should have recognized they were dealing with a teen, and that the weapon wasn't real.
Friends and family question why police had to shoot to kill instead of only shooting to stop the threat.
University of South Carolina criminologist Geoffrey Alpert explained in an interview with SF Gate
"As long as an armed person appears to be a threat, you don't have time to look to see if it's a toy. If it looks real. you've got to believe it's real."
Andy had been walking home from an alternative school, where he was a new student after transferring from eighth grade at Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa. He was into basketball and playing the trumpet. Memorials are growing at both his former school, as well as at the location of the shooting.
The Santa Rosa Police Department, along with Petaluma police and the Sonoma County district attorney's office plan to issue more information in the near future. They've spent the past 24 hours investigating the teen's death.
Sheriff Steve Freitas issued a statement October 23 saying
"The public expects that the investigation will be thorough and transparent. As sheriff, I will do all in my power to see that expectation is satisfied. My hope is that we can work with the community to help prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future."
The officer's involved in the shooting haven't been identified. They've been placed on administrative leave, which is procedure in police shootings. All questions are being referred to the Santa Rosa Police Department.
This is the third police shooting incident in the Bay area in the past 48 hours. On October 21 Union City police killed a parolee armed with a pipe. Then on October 22 a San Bruno officer shot and killed a suspect who had stolen a car and allegedly aimed the vehicle at officers.
Did Santa Rosa officers do the right thing in shooting what they considered a suspect carrying a high-powered assault rifle? Or were they a couple of trigger-happy cops who could have ended the situation without the use of deadly force? Your comments are welcome.