The 13-year-old Santa Rosa eighth-grader shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy was already mortally wounded by the time a second deputy got out of a patrol car and into position, Santa Rosa police investigators said Tuesday, one week after the shooting.
Middle schooler Andy Lopez was carrying an airsoft rifle that closely resembled an AK-47 assault-style weapon on Oct. 22 when Deputy Erick Gelhaus ordered Lopez to drop the gun, police officials said.
As Lopez turned toward the deputies, Gelhaus fired, but his partner did not.
Santa Rosa Police Lt. Paul Henry on Tuesday discussed for the first time the statements of the deputy who did not shoot at Lopez, details that began shedding light on a lingering question for many in the community following the fatal shooting: Why did only Deputy Gelhaus open fire?
There was no time, the second deputy told investigators, according to Henry.
“By the time he had exited his door and taken cover, at that point Deputy Gelhaus had already engaged the subject, with the commands and with the weapon,” Henry said. “The threat was essentially over.”
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office has not yet named the deputy-in-training who was with Gelhaus. Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Dueñas said that the deputy, who had 11 years' experience in law enforcement and was hired about one month ago from another Bay Area agency, is considered a witness and part of the Santa Rosa police investigation.
Gelhaus, a 24-year veteran with the Sheriff's Office, was his training officer.
Neither the deputies nor the patrol car was equipped with audio or video recording equipment, Henry said.
Lopez, who wore a hooded sweatshirt with the hood down, had no headphones or earbuds that might have affected his hearing, according to new details police revealed Tuesday.
The deadly shooting took place at 3:14 p.m. Oct. 22 as Lopez walked from his family's home on Moorland to a friend's house.