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California community mourns 13-year-old killed for holding AK-47 look-alike

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Robert Galbraith/Reuters

(Read caption) A photo of Andy Lopez is shown at a makeshift memorial at the site of his death in Santa Rosa, Calif., October 24, 2013. Andy, 13, carrying a replica of an assault rifle, was shot and killed Tuesday by sheriff's deputies who believed the gun was real.

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Several hundred people marched more than three miles on Thursday evening from the city hall in Santa Rosa, Calif., to the field where two days before, a 13-year-old boy was fatally shot by law enforcement while he was carrying a toy pellet gun that resembled an AK-47.

Some held candles and signs that read: “What a tragedy, what a travesty,” according to media reports.

On Tuesday afternoon, Andy Lopez was walking home from his friend’s house, toy gun in hand, when a sheriff’s deputy spotted him – and the AK-47 look-alike – from behind. 

From there, everything unfolded in a matter of seconds. 

The deputy and his partner, who were out on regular patrol duty, pulled over their car and took cover behind the vehicle’s doors, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. 

The patrol car’s overhead light and siren were activated, and law enforcement twice ordered Andy, who was about 20 to 30 feet away, to drop the gun, one witness said, according to an Associated Press report.

Andy began to turn around in the direction of the deputies, barrel of the rifle rising up, one officer said.

Seven bullets struck the young teenager. Sixteen seconds later, the officers called for medial attention, according to Reuters.

Andy died at the scene, and what was thought to be an assault weapon turned out to be a plastic replica, officers discovered. 

The trademark orange tip that federal law requires toy-gun manufacturers to place on the ends of fake guns was missing from the pellet gun, law enforcement reported. Also, a toy handgun was found in Andy’s waistband, but it had the orange tip.   

The two deputies involved in the incident have not been publicly identified and have been placed on administrative leave. 


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