The FBI is conducting an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy in Northern California.
Sheriff Steve Freitas said in a statement Friday afternoon that he will cooperate fully with federal investigators and welcomes their participation in the probe of Andy Lopez’s killing on Tuesday afternoon. The shooting has generated numerous protests and marches in the suburban town of Santa Rosa, with many residents questioning the deputy’s decision to fire on the youth.
Steve Freitas also expressed sympathy to the Lopez family and thanked the Santa Rosa community for keeping protests peaceful.
Police say Andy Lopez was carrying a pellet gun that looked like an AK-47 assault rifle.
A timeline released Thursday by the Santa Rosa police shows that only 10 seconds passed from the moment that the sheriff’s deputy and his partner called dispatch to report a suspicious person to the moment they called back to say shots had been fired.
FBI spokesman Paul Lee said he did not know why his agency decided to get involved or whether local authorities had requested its help.
The FBI is conducting an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy in Northern California
More than 100 angry middle and high school students walked to City Hall on Friday, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported. Hundreds of people protested earlier in the week.
City police and the Sonoma County district attorney’s office are also investigating.
The Santa Rosa Police Department said two deputies in a squad car encountered the hoodie-wearing Andy Lopez just after 3:14 p.m.
Witnesses say at least one of the deputies took cover behind an open front door of the cruiser, and one yelled twice “drop the gun.”
Ten seconds after their initial report to dispatch, one of the officers called in “shot have been fired.”
Sixteen seconds later, the deputies were calling for medical help. Cruz was later pronounced dead at the scene. The Sonoma County coroner said he found seven “apparent entry wounds,” two of them fatal.
The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting, officials said.
Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas told the Press Democrat that the deputy who shot the teen is a 24-year veteran and his partner, who did not fire his weapon, is a new hire.
Santa Rosa police Lt. Paul Henry told the newspaper the deputy who opened fire later told investigators he believed his life as well his partner’s was in jeopardy. The deputy said the teen didn’t comply with commands to drop the gun and was turning toward the deputies while raising the barrel.
Hundreds of community members marched Wednesday night to remember Andy Lopez and protest the shooting.
Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old boy carrying a replica assault rifle, has been shot dead by police in the US state of California.
Officers in the city of Santa Rosa say they opened fire after Andy Lopez refused orders to drop the rifle, which they believed to be real.
The shooting on Tuesday is now being investigated.
It comes a day after a 12-year-old boy in Nevada shot dead a maths teacher at his school and wounded two fellow pupils before taking his own life.
In the latest incident, two sheriff’s deputies saw the teenager “with what appeared to be some type of rifle”, a news release from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office said.
The deputies called for backup and repeatedly ordered the boy to drop the gun before firing several rounds from their handguns, police said.
The boy, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was later identified by his family as Andy Lopez.
“He was holding the weapon in his left hand. He began to turn toward his right in the direction of the deputy, and in so doing he moved the gun toward the deputy, and the deputy’s mindset was that he was fearful he would be shot,” Lt Paul Henry of Santa Rosa police said.
But the boy’s father, Rodrigo Lopez said the shooting made no sense.
Officers in the city of Santa Rosa say they opened fire after Andy Lopez refused orders to drop the rifle, which they believed to be real
“My son lost his life. He’s not alive any more just because of the mistake of somebody.”
The replica gun had belonged to a friend, he said.
The sheriff’s office said a plastic handgun had also been found in the boy’s waistband.
Witness 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,” he said.
One man who saw the events unfold said the shooting was over in an instant.
“He pulled over to the kid walking and he just opened the door and shot him, three shots,” Ismael Mondragon told KGO-TV.
Police Lt Dennis O’Leary said the deputies had been placed on administrative leave pending the inquiry.
Sheriff Steve Freitas described the shooting as a “tragedy” and promised the investigation would be thorough and transparent.
“As a father of two boys about this age, I can’t begin to imagine the grief this family is going through,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the boy’s school described him as “a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable”.
Linsey Gannon, assistant principal at Lawrence Cook Middle School, said he played trumpet in the school band.
“Our community has been rocked by his loss,” she said.
Candles, teddy bears and flowers have since been left at the scene of the shooting.
“He was a good kid, he was 13 years old. He didn’t look like a man, Andy, he was a boy,” one friend told local media.
On Monday, a 12-year-old boy who has not been named opened fire at a school in Sparks, Nevada, killing maths teacher and Afghanistan veteran Michael Landsberry.
Police said Michael Landsberry had tried to coax the boy to drop the gun, enabling children in the playground to flee.
The boy then shot and injured two fellow pupils, before taking his own life on the outdoor basketball court.
President Barack Obama has recently renewed calls for changes to US gun laws following a series of deadly shootings.