More protests on day of Santa Rosa teen's funeral

Hundreds of people gathered for the funeral of the 13-year-old boy shot to death by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy.
October 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Family, friends and classmates gathered to celebrate the life of 13-year-old Andy Lopez following a day of protests over the teen's death.

It has been one week since 48-year-old Sonma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus mistook the Andy Lopez's replica pellet gun for an AK-47 and shot him seven times. Andy died at the scene.

Gelhaus is a 24-year veteran of the department and a firearms instructor who has written articles for law enforcement on the use of deadly force. Gelhaus said he feared for his life when Lopez turned around and pointed the rifle at him.

The FBI has joined several local agencies investigating the shooting.

Rallies over the killing of Andy Lopez have been held before, but Tuesday's may be the biggest of them all. There have also been marches before, including one last Friday, when a line of middle school and high school students more than a block long went from City Hall to the sheriff's department where they staged a rally.

Those were local events, but over the week since the shooting, people are reading into this case which has expanded in scope. Now, more experienced causes are lending their feet. They're coming from San Francisco, Oakland, and elsewhere. They say that while this is about the shooting of an innocent 13-year-old boy, it is also about police use of force and accountability.

Over 1,000 people gathered at the courthouse square and Santa Rosa Junior College Tuesday to march to the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Department. Emotions ran high.

"What we really want is something to change, something tangible," Santa Rosa resident Bree Foster said. "We are tired of being perceived as a threat to police. They are here to protect us."

Chants included "Andy Lopez did not have to die" and "Shame on You" when members of the crowd pointed their fingers at the more than a dozen sheriff's deputies who stood behind a barricade in front of the building and another 10 on the rooftop.

Later in the afternoon, friends, family and classmates packed the Resurrection Parish Church for a funeral mass remembering the teen.

On Monday, Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas spoke to ABC7 News about the shooting and the reaction from the community. "I don't believe that racism is involved in this case at all and many of the people of Sonoma County know that the sheriff's office, and me specifically, has done much in the past three years to build bridges, specifically with the Latino community," he said,

Bay City News contributed to this report.


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