Vigil held three years after 13-year-old shot by sheriff

- Three years after a 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by a Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy, the local community returns to the scene to remember him.

Andy Lopez was killed in an empty lot in Santa Rosa after deputies saw him carrying what they thought looked like an AK-47 rifle. It turned out to be an airsoft gun.

The shrine to Andy Lopez has been torn down and burned several times, according to neighbors, but family members and activists keep rebuilding it.

It stands just feet away from where 13-year-old Andy was shot on October 22, 2013.

Two deputies spotted Andy at the open lot on Moorland and West Robles Avenues.

The deputies said they thought he was carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. It was an airsoft gun. Deputies said Andy did not drop his gun at their demands, and instead, allege the barrel started moving upward when Andy turned toward them.

Susan Lamont, an activist says "The number of 13-year-olds in this country who have intentionally gone out and shot people is so infinitesimal, compared to the number of them who play with these that the odds were so slim that this was a danger". 

Deputy Erik Gelhaus fired and shot Andy seven times in 17 seconds.

Deputy Gelhaus never faced criminal charges for Andy's death. A few months ago, it was announced he was promoted to sergeant.

Another local activist Alfredo Sanchez says, "You can only take so much disrespect. There's only so much disrespect that you can tolerate so much. Policemen come in here and kill our kids and get promoted and two months off vacation pay for killing a Mexican. We will not tolerate that."

On Saturday, Andy's mother and sister came to the vigil, but declined to be interviewed. They say they were still too emotional to talk about Andy. 

A crowd of friends and activists came out to remember the 13-year-old, but to also show the rest of the community that the pain of his death still exists. 

One activist says his group has requested several meetings with the sheriff to discuss law enforcement's relationship with the lower income community here, but they have never gotten a face-to-face with the sheriff.

 

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