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A 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by police in Santa Rosa after he was spotted with what police thought was a real gun.
Local reports indicate that Andy Lopez was walking near his home when the officers saw that he was carrying what was believed to be a gun. Witness said they heard the officers tell the boy to put down the weapon before hearing several gunshots.
"Put the gun down," a witness claims to have heard twice before the shooting occurred, according to CBS.
Police Lt. Paul Henry explained that the policeman believed that he was holding AK-47 assault rifle.
"At some point immediately thereafter, the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns at the subject striking him several times," a spokesperson the Sonoma county sheriff's office states. "Once the scene was secured deputies learned that the rifle was a replica of an assault weapon."
One eye witness, Ethan Oliver, who lives across the street, told KTVU.com he heard two gun shots, and then came out to investigate. By the time he saw anything the boy was already on the ground, but then Oliver claims, "Then the cops went at it again and unloaded like six to seven shots."
If Oliver's claims are true it would mean the police shot at the boy a total of eight or nine times, although officials have not confirmed those claims.
The shooting has prompted local residents to protests in the Santa Rosa community as residents are shocked at how trained police officers could have mistaken a fake gun with a real one.
Still, Lt. Henry explained that the officer was in fear of his own life and that of those in the surrounding area.
"The deputy's mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot," Henry said in a statement.
"He has quite a bit of experience with this kind of weapon. He's aware of the kind of damage these kinds of weapons can do. [It] can penetrate his body armor, can penetrate the metal of his vehicle, and also the sides of houses and buildings in the area."
It was alleged that the boy pointed the gun at police, but that claim has not been substantiated. Police are not disclosing the name of the shooter who was put on administrative leave while the investigation continues.