163305 tn?1333668571

13-year-old boy carrying pellet gun shot dead by police in California

Police in Santa Rosa say they thought the replica firearm the teenager was carrying as he walked to a friend's house was real

Hundreds of people marched through the northern Californian town of Santa Rosa on Wednesday night to demand justice for the death of a 13-year-old boy shot by police while carrying a pellet gun to his friend’s house.

Andy Lopez was killed the day after a 12-year-old boy shot dead a maths teacher and himself at a school in the neighbouring state of Nevada. Two Santa Rosa sheriff’s deputies said they opened fire after repeatedly asking Andy to drop the replica assault rifle, which they believed to be real. The teenager was declared dead at the scene on Tuesday.
According to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, the deputies were driving by when they spotted the teenager walking “with what appeared to be some type of rifle”. Lopez had his back to the officers, who did not realise he was a boy. They called for backup and, they said, ordered him twice to drop the gun. The teenager was around 20-30ft away when he turned towards them. “He was holding the weapon in his left hand,” said Lt Paul Henry of Santa Rosa Police. “He began to turn toward his right in the direction of the deputy, and he moved the gun toward the deputy, and the deputy’s mindset was that he was fearful he would be shot.”
One eyewitness recounted the incident to the news station KGO-TV. “He pulled over to the kid walking and he just opened the door and shot him, three shots,” Ismael Mondragon said.

The boy’s father, Rodrigo Lopez, told reporters his son had borrowed the replica AK-47 from a friend, and was walking to the other boy’s home to return it. “It’s not right what they did to my son,” Mr Lopez said.

41 Responses
163305 tn?1333668571
Our police forces have been taught to shoot to kill and ask questions later.

This could have been me back in the early 70s carrying a tired little boy's toy rifle on my shoulder !!!! But at that time, a police car did stop and talk to me, never threatening, friendly in fact.

Avatar universal
The investigation shows that it was 10 seconds between the time they stopped him and the time they shot him.
I can easily imagine that the boy was frozen like a 'deer in the headlight' and couldn't respond right away but 10 seconds does not give time for a response anyway.
The FBI is investigating and I am so glad. We have enough issues without trigger happy cops on the road.
1310633 tn?1430224091
Unfortunately, this is a REALLY tough one to call...

One the one hand, the police should have taken a BIT more time to assess the situation.

On the other hand, we've all be "trained" to expect the worst when it comes to gun violence (and cops shoot 1st, ask questions later).

And if the gun had been real, and the boy had opened fire on the cops, killing one or 2, and a 3rd cop had shot him dead? The 3 cops (2 dead and the shooting officer) would have been declared "hero's" by all, and it would have made national news.

This is an extremely sad situation.

No one wins.
Avatar universal
It is a sad situation and there were a number of ways around it.  I don't know as if we have the whole scoop on the subject.  I can completely understand the cops having their hackles up with a kid walking down the street with what "appears" to be an assault rifle.  Perhaps the cops could have done more and perhaps the kid could have listened to and followed directives.....

I know this for sure.  If that were a real weapon and the kid was walking down the street, shooting into random houses... everyone would be crying, "where is law enforcement when you need it".  

So much more could have been done.  That and the loss of life is what saddens me.
Avatar universal
I agree it is a complex issue and really very sad. What I don't understand is why they couldn't have shot him in the leg and incapacitated him? I thought they had to learn how to shoot.
Avatar universal
I think maybe if it had been a 5 or a 7 year old walking down the street it would be a different situation maybe? Usually by the time a kid is 13, they have given up playing with the toy guns for the most part? But I also think the cops are getting trigger happy in this day of gun freedom. And that is not okay either. Seems lots of kids are getting killed as a result of our new found freedoms, or is that just me that feels that way?
Avatar universal
I don't know. Sometimes it seems like things are much worse now but sometimes it seems like it is more related to our access to the news and the way the media exploits our interest and horror over these events that make it seem like it is increasing.
After all, in the fifties there were lynchings and killings and serial killers and child molestation going on but it wasn't really talked about as much.
The mass killings do seem to be on the rise though and I can only speculate but it seems to be a combination of the infatuation with assault weapons as a result of these terrible video games, children who are not really being raised by anyone except the media they are exposed to and the antihero status some ppl seek in being a notorious killer.
I am generally sympathetic to cops because they never know what they are going to face when they pull someone over and that fear cannot help but make them a little trigger happy. I do understand how they may have been fearful the boy would shoot them but they should be trained in how to deal with an issue like this in a non lethal manner.
1310633 tn?1430224091
I've often wondered that myself.

Why are cops always in "shoot to kill" mode?

I know there are situations where adrenaline takes over, and I get that, really I do.

But this situation? Really?!?

Shoot him in the leg, or in the arm, or in the foot/hand.

"Shoot to incapacitate" vs "shoot to kill"... I think it's a valid view.
Avatar universal
"Shoot to incapacitate" .....  Great idea on paper, and look at the lives it would save, until it didn't save a life and perhaps killed an innocent bystander.

I like the idea of it, but it's not reasonable.  The reasons are many.  Physiologically, the body changes in the way it functions when cops enter situations like "man with a gun".  

Cops arrive, start shouting directives.... bad guy is not listening, everyone's adrenaline is through the roof.

Look, something happened there that we don't know about.  The news did not get the whole story out there.  
Avatar universal

Yeah, just shoot him in the leg.....

I think I counted 9-10 shots but there were a couple more loud noises that could have been gun shots.... Lets compromise... 9 rounds, basically point blank, and nobody got shot.
Avatar universal
I get what you are saying. The situation is incredibly complex and it is true when many of us think of shooting someone in the leg we are assuming that is part of the police training (via Hollywood)
I would like to see the force come up with some viable alternatives to shooting to kill though.
Living in Oakland I have seen profiling and overreaction on the part of the police however I also am well aware of what they are up against. I will never forget the pictures of those two motorcycle (Cal.Highway patrol) lying in the street just 3 blocks from where I taught High school. They had pulled a guy over (who was wanted for raping his 9 year old niece) and he opened fire on them before they even reached his car. He killed two more Oakland officers before they finally brought him down. Sorry, but in a case like that I completely understand how that fear and adrenaline can provoke an overreaction in less volatile situations. I am not offering excuses but they have a very tough job and I for one am grateful they are willing to stand between me and a killer. Nevertheless, there should be consequences(not so much punishment as killing a child and living with that is enough punishment) mostly there should be continuous training and counseling for the officers working in such high stress/traumatic situations.

Additionally, we the public need to increase our awareness and that of our kid's to be very careful and compliant when dealing with police, esp. concerning weapons.
Avatar universal
This brings to mind a story of something that happened while I was teaching HS in S.F. In the middle of class one of my students pulled out a gun and pointed it at me. It was a toy but it looked very real. I looked at her and said "Give that to me right now!" She put it back in her backpack and I said "Uhuh, you need to give that to me." So she handed it to me and I saw it was fake (and finally exhaled) and then I laid into her, I said "Do you have any idea of what would happen to you if the school officer passed by just now? Are you crazy? This is how you kids get killed!" I had to turn it into the office, she was suspended and missed prom and graduation.
This was before all those mass shootings in schools, now she would probably be arrested. Anyway, as foolish as she was she was harmless., Kids can be stupid and they really need to learn from an early age how dangerous it is to even play like that in public.
163305 tn?1333668571
A report on our local radio station quoted a witness who said Andy Lopez ( the victim) didn't seem to know the police were behind him and didn't know if he understood when they told him to " Stand Down."

How many of you know what Stand Down means???
Stand down is a military term.
Why didn't they simply say,
" This is the police, drop your gun "?? repeatedly ????

The problem, I believe is how the police are being trained.
They are being told shoot to kill rather than try to disarm. It's the only explanation that fits.
Avatar universal
I don't think there is a police academy in the country that teaches "shoot to disarm".  What is the practicality of that?  You shoot to disarm someone and accidentally kill them.  Now what do you have?  If you guess lawsuit, I'd bet there would be a chicken dinner in it for you.

A good cop thinks good and hard before he pulls the trigger.  I can assure you of that.  Prove that these were bad cops or rogue cops and perhaps you have a foot to stand on.

In that very same situation, if I did not understand the language and a couple of cops had guns pointed at me?  Ditch the gun and find some ground, face down with my hands and legs out to the side.
206807 tn?1331936184
“A report on our local radio station quoted a witness who said Andy Lopez ( the victim) didn't seem to know the police were behind him and didn't know if he understood when they told him to " Stand Down."

This “witnesses” statement makes no since at all.
973741 tn?1342342773
I think it Is sad.  And wrong.  It was 'over kill' literally.  And it is highly disturbing to me that we live in a time in which police are afraid of kids with plastic guns.  That the assumption is that it is real and he's about to use it on people.  Not that 'this is a 13 year old kid and the likelihood that he has a real gun is low, let's talk to him."  

Guns are too readily available that now police have to shoot on sight rather than think logically because now we really have 13 year olds taking guns to school and shooting teachers.  CRAZY.  How did it get to this?  

And it makes me evaluate things in my own home.  My kids love all the 'boy toys' of plastic guns, nerf swords, archery, etc.  They love super heroes and cowboys.  Etc.  Am I doing the wrong thing by letting them have access to this type of entertainment (movies around such, video games?) and these toys?  

But when I was a kid, kids also played with that stuff.  *I* as a girl even had that stuff.  

Maybe it is the increased violence in video games?  Maybe it is the amount of time kids play video games?  Maybe back in the day more parents were home or at least one parent home after school and now kids are daycare/latch key/ home alone from cradle to college?  

I don't know.  But I think it is a sad statement about where our youth is at in this period of time.  
1310633 tn?1430224091
Do you expect any less from OH? Vague quotes from vague sources, giving even vaguer insight into something that they couldn't possibly know.

The kid is DEAD. How on earth could the source on the local radio know or not know what the kid did & didn't understand?

I see things are status quo around here, and I didn't miss much in the 4 months that I was MIA.

1310633 tn?1430224091
Can we all just agree that this is SAD?

The kid is dead because he was walking down the street with a semi-automatic weapon.

If it'd been real, and he'd started shooting people, and managed to kill someone, there would be OUTRAGE regarding the lack of police presence.

The kid is neither wrong nor right.
The police are neither wrong nor right.

Things aren't ALWAYS black & white. Sometimes, things are just in the GREY area, and need to stay there. This is one of those things.

Tragic? Yes.
Avoidable? Yes.
Sad? Yes.
Time for finger-pointing? No.

Shoot to kill. Shoot to disable. Shoot to wound. Shoot to tickle. Whatever.

Why hasn't anyone said... "The stupid kid shouldn't have been walking around with a freaking GUN in his hands, fake or not"?
973741 tn?1342342773
BTW, I think that  it  is bs that they couldn't try to shoot a kid in such a way as to wound him rather than kill him.  The mindset of police officers that everyone is a criminal first and innocent last makes them A holes to deal with (know a few).  I get it, part of their work is to protect themselves  but yeah, I could see a 13 year old stand there like a deer in headlights  with police when he doesn't even get what they are upset at.  He KNOWS it is a toy and maybe didn't even think it would be mistaken for something else.  I think if you yelled stand down to a kid who has a plastic gun that they might not put it together that you are saying ditch the toy!  That actually DOES make sense to me.  
Avatar universal
"Why hasn't anyone said... "The stupid kid shouldn't have been walking around with a freaking GUN in his hands, fake or not"? "  

I think I alluded to that above.  From a distance, you'd be hard pressed to discern some of the "toy guns" from "real guns".  

Until I hear a report that the cops just drove up and opened fire, I am going to go with what was reported.  The cops showed up, drew their weapons (because someone had a gun), shouted directives, the kid supposedly made a move with the gun and was consequently shot.

Has anyone here besides me ever have a gun pointed at you?
163305 tn?1333668571
The police  car stopped behind the kid 10 seconds of the police car stopping, a 13 year old boy was dead.

Um, gee el, I missed you too. Sorry if I wasn't clear or didn't explain what I heard on the local radio concerning an eyewitness report. Here is what I do know and what I found online.


The Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who fired the shots that killed a 13-year-old  boy carrying a replica assault rifle  last week is a firearms expert, Iraq War veteran, and a regular contributor to magazines and blogs, where in one article, he wrote about needing to have a "mean gene" to stay alive in the "kill zone."

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat first reported the name of the deputy as Erick Gelhaus, 48, which was confirmed to NBC Bay Area on Monday by Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Dueñas. In a November 2008 SWAT Magazine article titled "Ambush Reaction in the Kill Zone," (PDF) Gelhaus wrote that in order to stay alive, you must take action and have a necessary "mean gene."

"If you cannot turn on the "Mean Gene" for yourself, who will?" Gelhaus wrote in a training article to teach law enforcement not to get killed while encountering an ambush.

Why is a military guy patrolling our streets with an attitude like you have to have mean gene ?? This was a neighborhood not a war zone !!!!
Avatar universal
All I know for sure is it seems for the norm than a rarity that innocent people are dying at the hands of our police. And frankly, I think it needs addressed. It is NOT okay! I will repeat that, IT IS NOT okay! And Im tired of making excuses for it to continue.
Avatar universal
Why can't the cops and media just talk people out of carrying guns and committing shootings?  No guns would ever be needed then and the unicorns and pixie dust could settle on us all and we'd live rainbow dreams forever....

Police Departments hire hundreds of military vets.  The over whelming majority of them are incredible law enforcement officers.  (We have about a dozen on our small local force.)  

A "firearm expert" cannot tell the difference between some of these toy guns and the real ones.  I would bet that this kid turned around and dragged the muzzle of this gun across the cops....  Go point your bb gun at a cop and see what happens... please, then get back to me with first hand information.... oh, and make sure you are not listening to directives.  That will add more insight.  Better yet, does your community allow "ride alongs"?  Go for a few "ride alongs".  

You are not innocent if you are not following directions.  In order for a cop to be able to determine if an area, person or situation is approachable, they offer directives in order to secure the area.  If one neglects these directives, the situation climbs a rung on the ladder and sometimes this happens really, really fast... like if someone points a gun at a cop.  It is not a cops job to sit there and take a bullet to determine if a gun is real or not.  It is fully that cops job to inject himself/herself into any given situation and try to neutralize the situation.

I'm not blaming the kid, but if he would have dropped to the ground and more or less surrendered, he would not have been shot.  If these cops shot the kid while he was on the ground and unarmed, you've got a case.
Avatar universal
He was 13 Brice. 13

So where were the adults?
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