Its been a very sad week in my hometown of Santa Rosa, in fact all of Sonoma County seems to be abuzz with news of the shooting of a 13 year old boy, by the name of Andy Lopez.
There are facts that have come out but due to the high emotions and risk of officer safety and an ongoing investigation, not ALL of the facts have been disclosed. I dont know anyone involved but I will be referring to Andy Lopez by first name because I feel it reminds people that he was a real person.
In lieu of facts it seems all internet stories related to this turn into crazy accusations from both ends of the spectrum. I haven’t read any news article or internet thread that doesn’t dissolve into debate about cops, gun control, parenting. This is of course typical of the internet. Its easy for people to have an opinion based on news clips and sound bites. It would be prudent to collect all of the facts before weighing in but I would like to address some of the bigger critiques I have read. But first would like to start with facts: The police were driving through the neighborhood in question. They saw someone carrying (what appeared to be) a (high powered very deadly) gun. If you can see an AK47, you’re already too close to it. They responded according to the situation as they would if you, me or the guy across the road had been doing the same. Police are people too, and even in their line of work, they don’t actually want to get shot or killed. This does not make it anyone’s fault nor does it make the situation any less tragic. The officers in question I am sure feel incredibly remorseful. No matter what one might think of police, no officer wants to be the guy (or lady) that shoots a child. No one.
Per KRON4 news “A timeline released Thursday by the Santa Rosa police shows that only 10 seconds passed from the moment that the sheriff’s deputy and his partner called dispatch to report a suspicious person to the moment they called back to say shots had been fired.” Admittedly I don’t know much about police procedures but if only 10 seconds went by one wonders how they gave a command twice in that period. I”m not stating an opinion but merely putting a question mark on something I hope the official report will answer.
There’s unsubstantiated reports that Andy may have had on an IPOD and simply may not have heard the officers. Police stated that when they pulled up, Andy was in the opposite direction of them-which seems to imply they pulled up behind him. THEY have NOT said he purposefully walked away from them or ignored them. Regardless it seems their choice to pull up behind him was another unfortunate decision that could have changed the outcome.
There are people in this world evidently with the extreme view that any toy gun should not be allowed outdoors. Its a sad day when the lines between toy and real guns are so blurred one cannot tell them apart. If life or death weigh on that difference than this should concern us all. The average toy store stocks dozens of varieties of toy guns. Children every day can be seen with Nerf, Super Soaker or Flying Disc guns. There is no societal outcry from this. Additionally, thirteen year old go places alone every day. Andy was walking down his own street to a friend’s house unattended to return something that belonged to said friend. This is hardly the mark of bad parenting.
Evidently we now live in an age where its becoming harder to tell he difference between toy & real. This should be cause for concern. If a child walking down the street with a toy is cause for hysteria and his death then lets pause and consider the consequences of this. Toys should not look real. Real should also not look like toy. Recently I saw a photo a powder blue pistol marketed to women. My son’s friend saw the picture and leaned over to look at it then asked “is that real?” Enough said. This is not abut gun control. I don’t begrudge anyone the right to bear arms or defend themselves. However I do call into question how serious someone takes gun ownership when they feel the need to stamp Hello Kitty on a pistol or bedazzle it. Guns are serious business. They should not be “cute.”
Furthermore if the difference between a replica and a real gun is little more than an orange tip, this should be changed.
Many people have criticized a number of other things such as “why wasn’t Andy in school?” Frankly these things aren’t relevant.Police do not roll up and shoot children for being truant. For what it’s worth though the shooting occurred at 3:14pm. Andy’s character and parents are not on trial here. The POLICE have not given any indication that they were called because he was truant, or because Andy was doing anything with the replica in a threatening manner. They were not called because he was a gang banger or any of the other myths that have sprung up in the internet rumor wheel. There are people out there claiming conspiracy theories and cover ups. Its a bit early in the investigation to call it a cover up. No mater what people want to believe about police, it’s far fetched to suggest they roll around looking for children to shoot. Again, I remind people on BOTH sides of the fence to stick with FACTS not conjecture.
It is a fact that police were called to respond to a report that someone was carrying a (very high powered, very deadly) gun. Police responded to said call. Police saw confirmation that someone was carrying (what they thought) was a high powered very deadly weapon. They responded according to the information they had at the time, which is no different than how they would respond to ANYONE carrying something of that nature.
It is also a fact that it is against the law to carry a replica firearm or to sell one to a minor (CA Penal Code 12556) Its unfortunate that society in general takes some laws so casually. that we forget. Its unfortunate that people don’t always know the law. Its unfortunate that a kid cant walk down the street to return what amounts to a toy without police being called. There are many unfortunate events at play here but lets call them what they are. NO ONE from the police department has stated Andy was at fault, so the internet jury should not be saying this either. NO ONE from the police department is saying the officers weren’t at fault, so the internet jury shouldn’t either. It seems to me though, if we are basing opinions solely on fact that this was all huge tragic misunderstanding. There are several agencies investigating what happened. The public will get facts once they are gathered. There’s no cover up here, there is caution, as well there should be. I would like to know what happened in its entirety. The police need to gather those in order to present them, its that simple. I trust that with so many agencies working on this that there will be a thorough investigation.
I always remind my own children to ask themselves first “does this make sense?” when trying to weigh information. There has been a lot of press regarding school shootings, and shootings in general. I understand that people are on edge about guns. But if you saw a neighbor kid in Santa Rosa calmly walking down the road casually carrying (what looked like) an AK47….does it make sense? If only Andy had not been seen that day, none of us would know who he is. I can only hope there’s some Greater Good that can come from this.
“The quality of the investigations that the Santa Rosa Police Department conducts is of the highest standard…I know we have strong working relationships with all law enforcement in Sonoma County, but we’re also professionals and we know what our task at hand is, and that’s to find out the facts.” – Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm
Note: if this seems like I’m bouncing around I apologize. I’m not taking sides. I”m searching for understanding. I will render a complete opinion when I have all the facts, and remind everyone to try and do the same.