SANTA ROSA (KCBS) – Santa Rosa police investigating the fatal shooting of teenager Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy last Tuesday said an eyewitness warned the boy about carrying the toy weapons shortly before the incident.
Santa Rose Police Lt. Paul Henry said an eyewitness told them that he was driving in front of the deputy’s patrol car as it approached the 13-year-old Lopez.
“He saw the subject carrying the rifle—or the apparent rifle—and that he rolled down his window and yelled out to the subject that he should put the gun away because the police were right behind him,” Henry said.
Also, contrary to earlier reports that both Deputy Erick Gelhaus and his trainee partner were outside the patrol car with guns drawn when they confronted Lopez, the trainee was actually in the car behind the wheel when Gelhaus warned Lopez twice to drop what he thought was a real AK-47.
Investigators said Gelhaus feared for his safety after Lopez turned around and allegedly raised the pellet gun in his direction. Gelhaus fired eight times, striking the eighth-grader seven times with his department-issued 9 mm handgun.
“Gelhaus believed that the subject may be preparing to shoot his weapon at him,” Henry said.
Henry said Gelhaus and his partner encountered Lopez about 3 p.m. on Oct. 22 as he walked down a street. Gelhaus told investigators that he could not remember if he identified himself as a police officer before firing.
The FBI, Santa Rosa Police Department and Sonoma County prosecutors are investigating the shooting. The FBI is looking into whether any federal civil rights violations occurred.
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