Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Boy's fatal shooting shakes California community

Police say student aimed replica of AK-47 at them

  • Print

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 replica 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. 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 northwest of San Francisco in California's wine country, were shaken by the boy's death Tuesday afternoon.

While some community members questioned why police decided to fire on such a young person, the shooting coincided with two separate murders of U.S. school teachers this week that have been linked to students of similar ages. On Monday in the neighbouring state of Nevada, a middle school teacher was allegedly shot by a 12-year-old student. And on Tuesday, prosecutors in Massachusetts say a 14-year-old student killed a math teacher.

In Santa Rosa, hundreds marched on Wednesday night to remember Lopez and protest the shooting of the teen, chanting "We need justice," as they questioned how the deputy mistook a pellet gun for an assault rifle. The marchers went to the site at the edge of a field where the boy was shot. Community members had left candles, teddy bears and flowers there.

Andy, a Grade 8 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.

Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas said the shooting was a "tragedy" and he would do everything he could to ensure the investigation was thorough and transparent.

After the deputies spotted the boy Tuesday, they called for backup and repeatedly ordered him to drop the gun, sheriff's Lieut. Dennis O'Leary said in a news release. His back was turned toward the deputies, and they did not realize at the time he was a boy.

Police said the boy was up to nine metres from them when he turned toward the officers with the gun and they opened fire.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

At Wednesday's news conference, Santa Rosa police displayed the pellet gun, which resembled an AK-47 with a black magazine and brown butt. The pellet gun did not have an orange tip like other replica firearms, including the plastic handgun found in the boy's waistband, police said.

Police 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.

Andy's father, Rodrigo Lopez, told a newspaper he last saw his son Tuesday morning. He also said the gun was a toy that belonged to a friend of his son's.

Further south Wednesday, a child at a Southern California elementary school pulled the trigger of a police rifle, firing a bullet that shattered and created shrapnel that injured three youngsters, authorities said.

The AR-15 was locked to the side of a motorcycle that was on display at Newman Elementary School in Chino during an anti-drug program when a student managed to fire it, Chino police spokeswoman Tamrin Olden said.

Farther up the West Coast in Washington state, an 11-year-old student accused of bringing a handgun, more than 400 rounds of ammunition and several knives to his Vancouver school was arrested Wednesday night, police said.

Police recovered the weapons and ammunition earlier in the day. No one was hurt. The boy was interviewed by detectives and arrested for investigation of one count of attempted murder, police said.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2013 A20

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Premier Greg Selinger resign?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google