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Boy, 13, Carrying Toy Gun Killed By Police
Northern California sheriff's deputies have shot dead a 13-year-old boy who was carrying what turned out to be a replica rifle, authorities have said.
Two Sonoma County deputies on patrol saw the boy walking with what appeared to be a high-powered weapon on Tuesday in Santa Rosa, sheriff's Lieutenant Dennis O'Leary said.
They called for backup and repeatedly ordered him to drop the rifle, which resembled an AK-47 with a black magazine cartridge and brown butt, according to a photograph released by the sheriff's office.
Deputies would only learn after the shooting that it was not an actual firearm, according to Lt O'Leary.
Rodrigo Lopez identified the boy as his son, Andy Lopez, to a newspaper and said the young teen was carrying a toy gun that belonged to a friend.
It was not clear whether the boy pointed the replica assault rifle at the deputies or made any type of threatening gesture.
Lt O'Leary said the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns immediately after issuing the orders to drop the rifle.
A neighbour in the area, Brian Zastrow, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper that 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.
Lt O'Leary said the boy fell to the ground on top of the rifle and deputies ordered him to move away before approaching him and putting him in handcuffs.
They then began administering first aid and called for paramedics, who pronounced the boy dead at the scene.
Deputies also found a plastic handgun in the boy's waistband, Lt O'Leary said.
The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting.
Community members left candles, teddy bears and flowers at the edge of the field where the teen was shot and questioned deputies' decision to open fire.
"I'm sure you can tell he's a 13-year-old boy," Abrey Martin told KGO-TV. "He's not some maniac."
The Press Democrat quoted the boy's mother, Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez, as saying, "Why did they kill him? Why?"
Rodrigo Lopez told the newspaper he last saw his son on Tuesday morning.
"I told him what I tell him every day," he said in Spanish. "Behave yourself."
Andy Lopez was an eighth-grader at Lawrence Cook Middle School, where assistant principal Linsey Gannon said he played trumpet in the band.
"Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable,"' she said. "Our community has been rocked by his loss."