Santa Rosa, Calif. — Northern California sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was carrying a replica assault rifle after repeatedly telling him to drop it, sheriff’s officials and family members said.
Two Sonoma County deputies on patrol saw the boy walking with what appeared to be a rifle around 3 p.m. Tuesday in Santa Rosa, Sheriff’s Lt. Dennis O’Leary said. The replica gun resembled an AK-47 with a black magazine cartridge and brown butt, according to a photograph released by the sheriff’s office.
Rodrigo Lopez identified the victim as his son, Andy, to a newspaper and said the boy was carrying a toy gun that belonged to a friend. Deputies would only learn after the shooting that it was a replica, according to O’Leary.
After spotting the boy, the deputies called for backup and repeatedly ordered him to drop the weapon, O’Leary said in a news release. They fired several rounds from their handguns immediately afterward, according to O’Leary.
A neighbor in the area, Brian Zastrow, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat he heard seven shots.
“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,” he said.
The boy fell to the ground on top of the rifle, according to O’Leary. O’Leary said the deputies ordered him to move away from the weapon before approaching him and putting him in handcuffs.
They began administering first aid and called for paramedics, who pronounced him dead at the scene. Deputies 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, O’Leary said.
Rodrigo Lopez told the Press Democrat he last saw his son on Tuesday morning.
“I told him what I tell him every day,” he said in Spanish. “Behave yourself.”
The family was back at their mobile home on Tuesday night after identifying the boy’s body, the Press Democrat reported.
The newspaper quoted the boy’s mother, Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez, as saying, “Why did they kill him? Why?”