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Police shot dead boy, 13, holding toy rifle

Published time: October 23, 2013 23:41
Edited time: October 25, 2013 07:51
Reuters / Beck Diefenbach

Reuters / Beck Diefenbach

Two sheriff’s deputies in Northern California shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who they thought was carrying an assault rifle, only to find out that the gun the teen was holding was a toy, police and family members have said.

The officers, on patrol Tuesday in Sonoma County, reported seeing the boy carrying what appeared to be a black AK-47, reports the AP. A photo made public after the tragedy show a toy weapon with a black magazine cartridge and brown stock. 

Sheriff’s Lieutenant Dennis O’Leary told reporters the deputies called for backup and repeatedly ordered the boy to drop the weapon before they both opened fire with their handguns. It was not clear whether the boy, later identified as Andy Lopez by his father Rodrigo, pointed the toy gun at the officers. 

Rodrigo Lopez told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat his son had been taking the toy to a friend’s house and also carried a pretend pistol in his waistband. The family said the gun was a “toy” but a police press statement described it as a “replica” Airsoft gun designed to look real while firing small plastic BBs. 

Sonoma County Sheriff's office photo shows a replica of an assault weapon that a teenage boy was carrying before he was shot by Sonoma County Deputies in Santa Rosa, California October 22, 2013. (Reuters)

 “I told him what I tell him every day,” Mr. Lopez said of the last time he saw his son on Tuesday morning. “Behave yourself.” 

Neighbor Brian Zastrow said the incident occurred in the afternoon when students were on the way home from school and many parents had left their jobs. The sudden eruption of gunfire echoed throughout the neighborhood. 

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. “After that I heard multiple sirens.” 

A video of the incident captured by another neighbor reportedly shows the two officers taking cover behind their patrol car with a body visible in the foreground. 

The names of the officers involved have not been made public but both have been placed on administrative leave, a routine course of action after a shooting occurs. 

Lopez was an eighth-grader at Lawrence Cook Middle School, where he played trumpet in the school band. The community adorned the site where he was shot with candles and other tributes, yet reports made it clear the shocking news had not yet sunk in for the Lopez family or the surrounding area. 

Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable,” Lawrence Cook assistant principal Linsey Gannon told the Press Democrat newspaper. “Our community has been rocked by his loss.” 

Approached by reporters upon returning home from identifying her son, Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez wept as she was comforted by family and friends. 

Why did they kill him?” she said. “Why?”

Comments (151)


Matei Paunescu 29.08.2014 16:31

Here in my country Police aren't allowed to shoot guns unless there is a shootout. The Airsoft Guns dont have any orange thing on the barrel, they just ask you if it's Airsoft or not and that's it. American Cops see a gun and start to shoot 7 rounds even if it's not pointed at them or anybody else..


StreetSleeper 07.08.2014 18:53

Sue Snead 03.04.2014 14:35

Everyone is quick to judge the police. If you have formulated a negative opinion of police, don't be a hypocrite when you're faced with danger and call them for help.


th ey volunteer for duty, then what? they are allowed to use weapon which we are no longer allowed to use, in places we are not allowed to even HAVE weapons, to Shoot Us and our Kids, if they feel "Threatened&quo t;?
they dont "Help" anyone Sue. They exist because People Like You wont accept responsibility for your own safety. you may LOVE the idea of police but you SURE aint dealt with many of them.


StreetSleeper 07.08.2014 18:47

Derrick Boyes 01.05.2014 23:31

I thought police officers couldn't open fire unless they were fired at ? or if they feel there is immanent threat and lives are in danger...These ones should face manslaughter for sure to the fullest extent. This is gun happy cops playing wild west... Disgrace.


Police do what they want. They routinely get away with just about anything they do while in uniform. They should have no Vests, they should have only pistols, and they should be elected -each one- for duty by the LOCAL and STATE population they are to "serve". PS Derrick is allowed to swear Nice!!

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