The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is considering a park in honor of Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old boy fatally shot by a deputy who thought his replica rifle was real. Christie Smith reports.
Sonoma County supervisors met Tuesday to discuss turning the site of where a 13-year-old carrying a replica rifle was killed by a deputy into a playground in his memory.
Now, the area where Andy Lopez was fatally struck Oct. 22 with seven bullets is a rundown, grassy field at the corner of Moorland and West Robles avenues in Santa Rosa, decorated with pictures of the boy, cards, candles and even a Christmas tree.
Many in the community - outraged that such a young boy was killed, even though he allegedly didn't put down his replica AK-47 - want to forever remember Andy. And they think a permanent place to play would be a good way to do it.
"This is just one of many things that should be looked at," Supervisor David Rabbitt told NBC Bay Area Tuesday morning. "What would it take to make that a park? Who would develop it? What would those costs be?"
The anger over Andy's death has not quelled much since Deputy Erik Gelhaus fired the fatal shots. Gelhaus, through his attorney, has said he pulled his own trigger out of fear; Andy did not immediately drop his weapon.
Protests were planned for Tuesday evening to coincide with a political fundraiser for District Attorney Jill Ravitch at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. Critics want Gelhaus to be charged with a crime.
Along with the park proposal, the supervisors will consider creating a community task force, holding ongoing town hall meetings, having officers wear lapel cameras among other changes in the wake of Andy's death.
Though the boy is gone, Supervisor Efren Carillo said the city could erect a lasting legacy in his honor.
"We have an opportunity to invest in a community," Carillo said. "This community should have had a park decades ago."