Deputies with the Sonoma, Calif., sheriff’s department shot and killed a 13-year-old boy Tuesday afternoon because he was carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle. The child, Andy Lopez, was reportedly carrying a toy weapon that belonged to a friend.
The Press Democrat writes:
It was unclear Tuesday whether the weapon recovered at the scene was an operational pellet or BB gun. Lopez’s family called the gun a ‘toy,’ but the Sheriff’s Department’s news release called it only a ‘replica’ of an assault rifle.
There are dozens of Airsoft guns on the market designed to look like real assault rifles but are electric and fire plastic, nonlethal projectiles similar to BBs.
The incident occurred at around 3 p.m., when two sheriff’s deputies patrolling an area of Santa Rosa observed the child walking with what sheriff’s officials said closely resembled an AK-47-style rifle. The deputies immediately called for backup. They also ordered the boy to drop the rifle, according to a news release by Sheriff’s Lt. Dennis O’Leary.
It is also unclear whether the boy refused to comply, but at some point, the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns, hitting Lopez multiple times.
After again telling the now-prone and unresponsive Lopez to move away from the rifle, deputies approached him as he lay on the ground and handcuffed him before administering first aid and calling for medical assistance.
The boy was later pronounced dead at the scene. After securing the scene, deputies discovered the rifle was a replica. Police also found a plastic handgun in the teen’s waistband.
Both deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.