13 Year-Old Shot Dead By US Police Was Carrying 'Replica Rifle'

Andy Lopez gunned down by officers after allegedly ignoring orders to drop the replica assault rifle, which they believed to be real.

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Ari Soffer,

Illustration: AK-47 assault rifle
Illustration: AK-47 assault rifle
Flash 90

A 13 year-old Californian boy was shot dead by police after he was spotted holding a replica AK-47 assault rifle.

Andy Lopez's father said he was on his way to a friend's house to return a pellet gun left at the family home over the weekend.

"It's not right what they did to my son," said Rodrigo Lopez, who was joined by friends and family at a vigil outside Santa Rosa City Hall in protest of his son's slaying.

Police in the city of Santa Rosa say they opened fire after Lopez refused orders to drop the rifle, which they thought was real.

"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," according to Lt. Paul Henry of Santa Rosa police.

A statement released by the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Department said:

"The two deputies repeatedly ordered the subject to drop the rifle and at some point immediately thereafter, the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns at the subject striking him several times. The subject fell to the ground and landed on top of the rifle he was carrying."

The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, pending investigation by the Santa Rosa Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.     

The tragic shooting came just one day after student shot and injured two schoolmates and murdered his teacher, before taking his own life with a  9mm Ruger handgun he had brought with him to school, once more igniting a nationwide debate over the United States' relatively lax gun laws.

Friends at the school in Nevada where that shooting took place say the as-yet unnamed 12-year old guman was a "nice kid", but that he had been targeted by bullies in the past.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure, and the incident is being investigated by the Santa Rosa Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, officials said.