(UPI) -- Dozens marched through the California neighborhood where 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy who thought the boy’s pellet gun was a real assault weapon.
Maritza Gallardo, 12, already misses her cousin. "It did hurt. It hurts a lot that he's gone," said Gallardo.
Santa Rosa Police, who are investigating the shooting, say that deputies told Lopez to put down the gun twice. Instead of dropping the toy, Lopez turned with the barrel of the gun pointing toward them. Fearing for his life, one of the deputies started shooting.
"The deputy then fired several rounds from his service weapon at the subject," said Lt. Paul Henry, "striking him at least one time. The subject immediately fell to the ground."
Neighbor Ethan Oliver said he saw things a little differently. Oliver claims he exited his house after hearing two gun shots and saw Lopez already on the ground.
"Then the cops went at it again and unloaded like 6 to 7 shots,” said Oliver. Asked if he meant the deputy shot Lopez while he was on the ground, Oliver responded, "Yeah. Exactly what I saw."
Area man Greg Kestel implied Lopez might have been targeted because of the neighborhood he was in. "If this is like anywhere else in rural Sonoma County and a kid with a pellet gun, they wouldn't have done nothing to him,” said Kestel. “But this urban area they just blast the kid."
The two deputies who were involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.