A California police officer shot and killed a 13-year-old boy as he walked down the sidewalk carrying a pellet gun that resembled an assault rifle.
The boy, Andy Lopez, was on his way to a friend’s house after being sent home early from school in Santa Rosa, California. He carried with him a pellet gun that had been left at his family’s home by another boy over the weekend. Though the gun was harmless, it resembled an assault rifle, and was missing an orange marker that usually indicates whether a gun is fake.
Two police officers happened to be patrolling a street nearby when they spied Lopez and his gun. One of the officers instructed the boy to put down his gun. Lopez then began to turn toward the officers. Fearing for their lives, one of the officers opened fire, according to police spokesperson Paul Henry.
“The subject turned toward the deputies, and as he was doing that the barrel of the weapon was rising toward the deputies,” said Henry in a statement, according to The Guardian.
Henry said that the officers did not immediately realize Lopez was just a child.
Lopez’s parents began to worry about him when he did not return to home. After a call to the friend’s house confirmed that his son had never arrived, Rodrigo Lopez stepped outside and noticed the sirens–and his son’s body.
Lopez died at the scene. A neighbor told The Press Democrat that seven shots were fired.
“It’s a tragic event,” said Henry. “It’s tragic for the family, the community and the deputies.”
The two officers have been placed on administrative leave while the Santa Rosa police department investigates.