The Santa Rosa Police Department described the sequence of events that led to Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies shooting 13-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz south of Santa Rosa Tuesday.
Around 3:14 p.m., deputies were patrolling the area of Moorland and West Robles avenues and spotted the teen carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle, a press release from Santa Rosa Police said.
The boy was carrying the rifle in his left hand, and his hand was at his side, according to the press release.
The deputies called for backup, stopped and exited their patrol car. They stood behind the car's open passenger door for cover, the press release states. It continues:
"One of the deputies shouted at the subject to, 'put the gun down.' A witness in the area reported that he heard the deputy shout two times to 'put the gun down.' Initially, the subject’s back was toward the deputies. When the deputy shouted at the subject, the subject began to turn toward the deputies. One of the deputies described that as the subject was turning toward him the barrel of the assault rifle was rising up and turning in his direction."
The deputy feared the boy was about to fire, the press release states.
"The deputy described that he is aware an assault weapon of this type is capable of firing a bullet that can penetrate his body armor, the metal exterior of his car, and the walls of the residential houses behind him," the department's press release says. "The deputy then fired several rounds from his service weapon at the subject, striking him at least one time. The subject immediately fell to the ground."
At that point, the deputies handcuffed the teen and performed emergency first-aid. Paramedics were on the scene "within minutes," according to the press release.
The teen died at the scene. Authorities plan to perform an autopsy on 13-year-old Andy on Thursday.
Police say the gun he was carrying was a replica AK-47 without the orange tip that usually accompanies fake guns. It was capable of shooting plastic projectiles, police said. A clear plastic toy handgun, found in Andy's waistband, did have an orange tip.
The Santa Rosa Police Department says it, the Petaluma Police Department and the county district attorney's office will continue to investigate the incident. The deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave.
Friends React with Sadness, Confusion
Christina Avila of Santa Rosa, whose daughter was a classmate at Lawrence Cook Middle School with Andy, attended Wednesday's news conference and said she was not satisfied with the police explanation.
"Why couldn't they just shoot him in the leg?" she asked. "We don't know why they had to take it to the extreme."
She said she didn't hear a provocation for the shooting in the police narrative. "It's natural for someone to turn towards someone when someone yells at you," Avila said.
Andy lived only about a half-block from the shooting scene and had four siblings, an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister, according to Avila.
She said that in the rural neighborhood, children having pellet guns is not unusual.
Thirteen-year-old Maglay Bejaran, a friend of Andy's, said she saw him about 5 minutes before the shooting. She said he was going to a friend's house, and she saw he had a plastic thing in his hand, but she couldn't tell what it was.
Maglay said Andy was a good person, and that, "It's sad how he was innocent and they just shot him."
Lt. Paul Henry of the Santa Rosa Police Department said that Andy had been asked to leave school that day but did not elaborate why.
"It's a tragic event no doubt for the family, the community and the deputies," Henry said.
Wednesday morning, Andy's friends posted mournful messages on his Facebook page. "Bye Andy R.I.P." one friend wrote.
Grief counselors and therapy dogs were on hand at Cook Middle School this morning, school principal Linsey Gannon said.
"Our community is very shaken by this tragedy," she said. "He was a very popular student."
Andy was also a talented musician who played the trumpet, Gannon said.
"He was a handsome young man with many friends and a lovely family. He will be missed," she said.
Gannon was unable to confirm reports that Andy had just transferred to another school last week.
Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas issued a statement Wednesday promising to do everything in his power to ensure the investigation into the shooting 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 wrote. "This is a tragedy on many levels...for the terrible loss of Andy Lopez, his family, the family's loved ones, friends, our community and the members of the sheriff's office."
Bay City News contributed to this article.
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