North Bay News

Santa Rosa 13-year-old shot 7 times by sheriff's deputy

Thursday, October 24, 2013
Andy Lopez Andy Lopez vigil

The results of an autopsy released this evening reveal that Andy Lopez, the 13-year-old boy that was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy, was shot seven times. Two of those shots were fatal. The deputy thought the teen was carrying an assault rifle, but it was a replica. A vigil was held for the eighth grader on Wednesday night and there appears to be no end to the grief in Santa Rosa.

Residents keep wondering how could a sheriff's deputy shoot a 13-year-old boy, even if he was carrying a lookalike weapon?

There were a total of eight shots fired by the sheriff's deputy and seven shots hit the boy.

When Santa Rosa police displayed a real AK-47 next to the lookalike replica that Andy carried, even experts had trouble telling them apart. The reason was because Andy's gun was missing a tell-tale orange tip.

At the young boy's memorial Thursday, a friend, Luis Diaz, explained why it was missing.

"Because last time he brought it over, he was putting it down, but it fell and the thing broke," he said.

If a person is more than 18 years old, it's easy to buy an AK-47 replica. ABC7 News found one for sale in a Rohnert Park Big 5 Sporting Goods for $200. The guns shoot plastic pellets, not bullets.

Ryan Podesta knows them well. He sells many such guns in his Rohnert Park store Thirty First Outfitters, which caters to paintball and pellet sports.

"It leans towards a toy, but it is definitely a grey area," he said.

The guns look like the real things and weigh like them too. Only the orange tips give them away, but kids like to remove them.

Podesta says from a distance, even he probably would not be able to tell the difference between a real AK-47 and a replica.

That's the story a Sonoma County sheriff told investigators after he shot Andy in a field on Tuesday. He says that he feared for his life and those of the neighbors.

"I think the threat was the deputy," said Santa Rosa resident Brian Bushon. He is one of those neighbors and he finds the sheriff's statement about safety as being a little odd considering the bullet holes in a nearby fence and home, the spent bullet he found in in his driveway almost a block away. Was it a matter of safety or bad judgment? "A kid with a gun is pretty much going to have toy gun."

Hundreds of people attended a vigil or the teen on Thursday night.

A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, says other boys in neighborhood did not have orange tips on their airsoft guns either. She told us, "I told them, 'Don't get shot, make sure you have some orange on your gun.' I said, 'They look too real.'"

At the vigil at least one community leader addressed what she calls a rift between the Latino community and law enforcement.

"Whether that's based on reality or prejudice it doesn't really matter. The fact is that it exists," said Laura Gonzalez, a Santa Rosa School Board member.

On Friday students at Andy's middle school and Elsie Allen High School are planning to walk out of class and march to the sheriff's department.

ABC7 News reporter Alan Wang contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
santa rosa, shooting, sonoma county, guns, north bay news, wayne freedman
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