Dressed in a blue hoodie and carrying a toy rifle, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot and killed by two Sonoma County Deputies yesterday on his way home from school in Santa Rosa, Calif. The case is still under investigation, but in press conference following the shooting the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department said only one Deputy fired his weapon at least one time, though people in a nearby neighborhood say they heard as many as seven shots fired.
Deputies say they shouted at the boy to put down his weapon, which they mistakenly thought was a genuine AK-47 assault rifle, and that instead of doing so Lopez turned toward them. Their names have not yet been released, but both have both been put on temporary paid leave.
Family and friends brought flowers and stuffed animals to the site where he was killed, which was just one third of a mile away from his house, and the superintendant of his school district released a statement saying Lopez was a good student who well-liked by schoolmates and members of his basketball team. It’s beyond tragic to hear of yet another incident where a young man of color, again unarmed, again walking in his neighborhood, becomes the victim of excessive force. Sonoma County is not far away from Oakland, Calif. where Oscar Grant was shot and killed by police in 2009, and it begs the question what it will take for police and average citizens alike in the U.S. to stop and think before using deadly force.