13-Year-Old Shot By Police, Killed Carrying Replica Rifle
In California, a 13-year-old boy carrying a replica assault rifle was shot and killed by police who believed the toy gun was a genuine and dangerous weapon this week.
The 13-year-old boy shot by police in Santa Rosa, California died on the scene of the accidental shooting. Andy Lopez’s father confirms that his son was killed after two patrolling officers encountered the young teen and reportedly ordered him to drop the fake gun.
A statement from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department addressing the tragedy states that officers fired several shots at Andy Lopez, and that the boy fell to the ground atop the toy weapon. The statement reads in part:
“The deputies fired several rounds from their handguns at the subject striking him several times. The subject fell to the ground and landed on top of the rifle he was carrying.”
When Lopez fell, cops approached him and discovered that the “rifle” was actually a replica gun. A second plastic handgun was found in Lopez’s waistband, according to the New York Times.
Father Rodrigo Lopez says Andy was an eighth grader, and that the replica rifle was a friend’s toy. Mother Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez was stunned by the tragic accident, lamenting to a local paper, “why did they kill him, why?”
Sonoma County sheriff Steve Freitas said in a statement that the shooting was a terrible accident:
“This is a tragedy on many levels… For the terrible loss of Andy Lopez, his family, the family’s loved ones, friends, our community, and the members of the Sheriff’s Office.”
Lopez was a student at Lawrence Cook Middle School, and Linsey Gannon, assistant principal, says of the middle schooler:
“Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable. Our community has been rocked by his loss.”
Local resident Brian Zastrow told a newspaper that he overheard the shooting, saying that it sounded like construction work at first:
“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.”
Another resident, Abrey Martin, was stunned by the tragic turn of events. Martin commented:
“I’m sure you can tell he’s a 13-year-old boy… He’s not some maniac.”
The 13-year-old shot by police Tuesday has prompted administrative leave for the two officers involved, which is standard for an incident involving a weapons discharge during a police incident.