A 13-year-old was shot by police in Northern California after sheriff's deputies mistook his replica toy gun for an actual AK-47 rifle. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
While on patrol in Santa Rosa, Calif., Tuesday afternoon, Two Sonoma County deputies observed 13-year-old Andy Lopez holding a toy gun which they believed to be real.
The deputies instructed the boy to drop the weapon to the ground, according to Sheriff's Lt. Dennis O'Leary, at which point they opened fire on the 13-year-old after the order was apparently not followed, the Associated Press reported
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O'Leary could not say whether or not the boy gestured at authorities with the toy gun before sheriff deputies opened fire and killed him.
Brian Zastrow, a neighbor in the area, said he heard seven shots when police opened fire on the 13-year-old boy, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported
"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," Zastrow said.
The boy's father, Rodrigo, told the local newspaper that the toy gun his son was carrying belonged to a friend.
Speaking in Spanish to the Press Democrat, the boy's mother Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez was reported as having said, "Why did they kill him? Why?"
An eighth-grader at Lawrence Cook Middle School, the school's assistant principal Linsey Gannon told the Press Democrat that Lopez was a trumpet player in the band.
"Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable,'" she said Wednesday. "Our community has been rocked by his loss."
On Wednesday, several hundred people, many of whom were children, reportedly gathered in the street where Lopez was shot and killed by police, mourning the community's loss and demanding answers from police.
"We don't know the reason why they killed him; they should know if a gun is real," 18-year-old Katia Ontiveros, who took part in the memorial march, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
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Santa Rosa Police Lt. Paul Henry attempted to explain the actions of the sheriff deputies by telling reporters, "The deputy's mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot."
Police have launched an investigation into the killing.
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