SANTA ROSA, Calif. — A 13-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun that resembled an assault rifle was fatally shot by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy when the youth turned the barrel in his direction, police said Wednesday.
A single deputy fired at Andy Lopez, killing him on the sidewalk at the edge of an empty lot in Santa Rosa, Lt. Paul Henry of the Santa Rosa Police Department said during a news conference, according to the Press-Democrat.
“The deputy’s mind-set was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot,” Henry said.
Lopez, a Santa Rosa eighth-grader, was walking through a southwest Santa Rosa neighborhood carrying a pellet gun that resembled an AK-47 assault rifle when he was spotted about 3 p.m. Tuesday by two deputies on routine patrol, Henry said.
The teen had his back to the two deputies, said Henry, whose department is investigating the shooting.
They stopped, took cover behind the doors of their patrol car and ordered him to drop the weapon, Henry said.
Lopez was 20 to 30 feet away, he said, adding the deputies did not realize he was a boy.
The deputy, a law enforcement veteran, believed the AK-47-styled pellet gun “was an authentic weapon,” Henry said.