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'Suspicious' boy shot seven times

Date

Terence Chea, Sudhin Thanawala

Gun tradegy: Andy Lopez Cruz was carrying a replica of an assault rifle to a friend's house, when he was shot and killed by a sheriff deputy.

Gun tradegy: Andy Lopez Cruz was carrying a replica of an assault rifle to a friend's house, when he was shot and killed by a sheriff deputy. Photo: Reuters

Residents of a northern California community expressed scepticism about a sheriff's deputy's decision to shoot a 13-year-old boy who was carrying a fake gun that looked like an assault rifle, after it emerged the shots were fired within 10 seconds of the deputies' first report of a suspicious person.

A preliminary autopsy report said Andy Lopez was shot seven times, and the two fatal wounds were in his right hip and the right side of his chest. The final autopsy results will not be completed for several weeks.

Investigators said they believed eight rounds were fired. The timeline released by Santa Rosa police show the shots were fired within 10 seconds of the deputies' first report of a suspicious person.

Denae Kirtley lights a candle at the site where Andy was killed in Santa Rosa, California.

Denae Kirtley lights a candle at the site where Andy was killed in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: Reuters

''It's very tragic and sad. It just happened so quick,'' said Noel Nunez, 15, from nearby Elsie Allen High School. He said deputies should be able to tell the difference between a real gun and a fake.

''Nobody should die for a misunderstanding, especially not a young boy who hasn't even started his life. It's just really sad knowing that,'' said Viviany Diaz Agirra Torres, 17.

She wanted to know whether police gave Andy time to put the fake gun down before opening fire.

People hold signs and candles at a makeshift memorial for Andy.

People hold signs and candles at a makeshift memorial for Andy. Photo: Reuters

Hundreds of people marched more than five kilometres from Santa Rosa City Hall on Wednesday evening to remember the teenager and protest against the shooting, chanting ''We need justice,'' The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported. They marched to the field where Andy Lopez was killed on Tuesday afternoon. Some lit candles and placed flowers at a makeshift memorial with printed pictures of the victim, stuffed toys and a balloon that read ''RIP Andy L''. An Aztec dance followed the march.

Police said two deputies were riding in a marked patrol car and were in uniform when they spotted Andy in a hooded sweatshirt and shorts at 3.14pm on Tuesday. His back was turned towards the deputies, and they did not realise he was a boy.

One of the deputies saw what appeared to be an assault rifle similar to an AK-47 in Andy's left hand. The deputies pulled over and took cover behind one of their vehicle's doors, according to police.

One of the deputies twice ordered Andy to drop the replica weapon, police said. The 13-year-old was about 10 metres from the deputies with his back towards them when he began turning around with what one deputy described as a rifle turning in his direction.

One deputy then fired several rounds, and the boy was hit seven times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

''The deputy's mindset was that he was fearful he was going to be shot,'' Santa Rosa police lieutenant Paul Henry said, whose agency is investigating the shooting.

The FBI would conduct an independent inquiry into the shooting, officials said on Friday.

''The sheriff will co-operate fully with the FBI and welcomes their participation,'' Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas said.

AP

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