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Protests Planned as North Bay Cop who Fatally Shot 13-Year-Old Returns to Work

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot Lopez seven times when he mistook an airsoft pellet rifle for an AK-47 rifle.

Credit: Napa Valley Patch
Credit: Napa Valley Patch

By James Lanaras

Bay City News Service

There will be an afternoon of protests Tuesday related to the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy in October.

A march is planned from Santa Rosa City Hall at 4 p.m. to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office to protest the deputy's return to work.

The rally at the sheriff's office is at 5:30 p.m. Deputy Erick Gelhaus, 48, was on paid administrative leave since the shooting on Moorland Avenue in Sonoma County southwest of Santa Rosa.

Assistant Sonoma County Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas said Gelhaus will work "in an administrative capacity" in the sheriff's office in Santa Rosa starting Tuesday.

"This is a huge insult to the community who has clearly expressed that Erick Gelhaus must be prosecuted!

Putting him back to work sends the message that he is innocent of any wrongdoing," states a flyer about the protest and march on Tuesday.

Gelhaus shot Lopez seven times when he mistook an airsoft pellet rifle for an AK-47 rifle.

Gelhaus ordered Lopez to drop the gun, and he shot Lopez when the barrel of the gun rose as Lopez turned toward Gelhaus, according to Santa Rosa police who are investigating the Oct. 22 shooting.

Supporters of creating the Andy Lopez Memorial Park at the vacant lot where Lopez was shot will present petitions to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon.

The Women in White organization also plans to speak during the public comment period at the board's 2 p.m. session.

In its morning session, the Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a charter and name appointments to a Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force that will make recommendations regarding the formation of an independent citizen review body.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

T McDermott December 10, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Doesn't anyone remember Columbine?? Or SandyHook Elementary? In both of those instances there were young men with Guns, killing children and teachers. Wasn't this young man on school grounds? With an Automatic Gun Replica? I understand it was an air gun and I am troubled that the youngster was shot. BUT Police procedure is to yell 'PUT DOWN THE GUN' before any action is taken. Just because this is Petaluma/Santa Rosa doesn't mean that there are no youths with real guns and gangs are infiltrating Petaluma now and are already intrenched in Santa Rosa. Guns are number 1 item to NOT bring to school, or be holding when confronted by police. As innocent as this youth was he looked bad and lost his life because of it. It's time the parents and the young adults start taking responsibility for their actions, neighborhoods and schools. We all depend on Police who are in mortal danger daily and act in a permanent way and you have to abide by the rules of public safety. DON'T CARRY OR WAVE GUNS AROUND THE POLICE. Even Air Guns.
Jim Caldwell December 11, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Brutally honest but completely true.

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