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California kid shooting: 13yo with replica assault rifle was shot 7 times in 10 seconds

Published time: October 25, 2013 09:44
A photo of Andy Lopez Cruz is shown at a makeshift memorial at the site of his death in Santa Rosa, California October 24, 2013. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

A photo of Andy Lopez Cruz is shown at a makeshift memorial at the site of his death in Santa Rosa, California October 24, 2013. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

The shooting death of a 13-year-old California boy believed to be carrying an assault rifle unfolded in no more than 10 seconds, police said. Andy Lopez Cruz, who was later found to be carrying a plastic replica, was struck by seven bullets.

In that time, a total of eight rounds were fired by one of the two sheriff’s deputies who confronted the teen, with two of the wounds – one in the right side of his chest and the second in his right hip – proving fatal.

Lt. Paul Henry, of the Santa Rosa Police Department, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Cruz was also shot in his right wrist, left biceps, right forearm, right buttocks and right hip.

It took another 16 seconds for the deputies to call for medical assistance, according to a timeline of events released by police investigating the fatal shooting in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

At approximately 3pm Tuesday, a 24-year-old deputy of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and a rookie deputy he was training spotted Andy, donning a blue hoodie and shorts, walking on Moorland Avenue with what they believed was an assault rifle in his left hand.

Police say the deputies – who have not yet been officially identified – got out of their squad car and took cover behind the open doors. The senior deputy twice shouted, "Put the gun down," before Cruz turned to his right, the Sheriff’s Office said.

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.(Sonoma County Sheriff's office/Handout via Reuters)

Police said the boy ignored two calls to put down the weapon, instead turning toward the senior deputy with the rifle barrel "rising up and turning in his direction." The deputy is then said to have opened fire out of fear for his life, being unable to tell whether his target was a child from where he was standing.

The eighth grader died at the scene. A toy handgun was also was found tucked in his pants.

The rookie deputy, who was hired last month, did not fire any shots, the Chronicle cites Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas as saying. That deputy had served 11 years with another police agency, said Duenas, who declined to identify that agency.

Four seconds after the shooting, the two officers radioed for assistance from other deputies. Another six seconds elapsed before they notified dispatchers that shots had been fired. Police had previously said the deputies called for backup the moment they noticed what appeared to be a military-style rifle.

The officers involved in the shooting have both been placed on administrative leave, in accordance in usual procedure in such cases. The incident is being investigated by the Santa Rosa Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

The shooting has sparked outrage in the community and beyond, with Andy’s family and friends accusing the deputy who opened fire of overreacting to a situation which did not require the use of deadly force.

The death has prompted calls in Santa Rosa for the creation of civilian review boards to examine such incidents.

"People have to do something," Elbert Howard, a founding member of the Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline of Sonoma County, told Reuters. "He's a child, and he had a toy. I see that as an overreaction to shoot him down."

People look over a makeshift memorial for Andy Lopez Cruz at the site of his death in Santa Rosa, California October 24, 2013. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

An advisory panel of the US Civil Rights Commission urged Sonoma County to create civilian-review boards in 2000 in the wake of eight fatal officer-involved shootings in less than three years. The panel’s recommendation, however, was disregarded.

Up to 200 mourners gathered Thursday around a makeshift memorial consisting of flowers, balloons, teddy bears and pictures of the boy at the site of the shooting.

Some held candles and signs that said: "What a tragedy, what a travesty."

Friends and family have described Cruz as personable and well-liked in the neighborhood.

Residents say the diverse neighborhood does not have a particularly high rate of crime, with people feeling safe allowing their children to play in the streets.

“A lot of people say this is not a great neighborhood, but we've never had any problems,” Sam Hin, a mother who works in human resources at a skilled nursing facility, told the Press Democrat. “It's our home. It's what we're used to.”

But Shannon Peavler, an in-home support provider whose mother lives on Moorland Avenue, told the daily deputies “come into the neighborhood thinking it's a bad neighborhood, so they treat people that way.”

Comments (63)


Riis Larsen 21.12.2013 22:02

I live in Santa Rosa. Officer Gelhaus fired 8 times in 10 seconds, hit 7 times. 2 shots killed and put Andy down, the next 5 were fired into his body after he hit the ground. Many complaints revolve around Gelhaus's career. He belongs to a shooting academy in Arizona with purportedly racist ideology. It is also rumored (unconfirmed testimony) that Gelhaus had, in the past, driven by this exact field and seen Andy and other boys playing in the field - with toy guns. There is much more to this story than a policeman "doing his job".


Sam Hendry 07.11.2013 19:26

Over reaction? Maybe in hindsight, but its a matter of judgement. Right and wrong is easy to determine from an arm chair after the fact. It boils down to this: If you point a gun at an officer of the law, fake or not. You should expect to be shot. If you are not shot it is because you are lucky. Not because the officer showed restraint. There job is to police the streets from us idiots who constantly make the world an unsafe place for all. Don't carry guns around toys or otherwise and don't point them at police. while this was unfortunately a tradgic event. If you let your kids play on the freeway, they will be hit.


Michelle Souza 01.11.2013 21:30

Eileen Kuch... are you out of your mind?! Sure.. I bet you would just giggle and walk away if you saw a kid walking around with a replica assault rife since you're just sooo brave. I mean in the age of kids shooting up schools and each other, I bet you would even pull over and ask if he needed a ride right? What was he doing walking around with this gun to begin with? He was old enough to know walking around in broad daylight with a gun that looked like an assault rifle just might cause a bit of a scare.

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