Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas said Wednesday that the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy carrying a replica assault weapon "is a tragedy on many levels."
"As a father of two boys about this age, I can't begin to imagine the grief this family is going through," Freitas said in a statement. "My hope is that we can work with the community to help prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future."
Sonoma County sheriff's deputies in Santa Rosa on Tuesday shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez, who authorities said was carrying a replica assault rifle.
The two deputies spotted Lopez near the intersection of Moorland and West Robles avenues at 3 p.m. "with what appeared to be some type of rifle," according to a news release from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
The deputies ordered the teenager to drop the rifle "and at some point immediately thereafter, the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns at the subject striking him several times," the sheriff's office said.
Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene. His father first identified him to The Press Democrat, telling the paper the replica gun his son was carrying belonged to a friend.
Deputies also found a plastic handgun in his waistband, according to the sheriff's office.
Lopez's mother, Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez, spoke with The Press Democrat in the living room of her home.
"Why did they kill him? Why?" she said.
In his statement, Freitas said the sheriff's department was cooperating with the investigation being conducted by several agencies.
"The public expects that the investigation will be thorough and transparent. As sheriff, I will do all in my power to see that expectation is satisfied," he said.