Santa Rosa Police Lt. Paul Henry gave an initial outline of the encounter to a roomful of reporters at the Finley Community Center on Wednesday afternoon. He also focused his remarks on the dangerous likeness between the airsoft gun and the assault-style weapon after which it's modeled.
"The deputy's mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot," said Henry, whose department is investigating the shooting.
The BB gun, designed to closely resemble its deadly cousin, was in Lopez's hand when two Sonoma County sheriff's deputies on routine patrol spotted the youth walking Tuesday afternoon on Moorland Avenue, Henry said.
The deputies pulled up behind Lopez, got out and called out to the boy to drop the gun, with their weapons drawn and from the cover of their open doors, he said.
Lopez, who had been walking on the sidewalk and carrying the BB gun in his left hand, turned toward the deputy and his partner, raising the barrel of the gun toward them, Henry said. Lopez was 20 to 30 feet from the deputies.
One deputy fired several shots at Lopez within seconds of calling out the commands, Henry said. At least one shot struck the boy and he fell to the ground.
Henry did not say how many shots were fired, how many shots struck Lopez or where he was hit. An autopsy is scheduled for today, he said.
On a table beside the podium at the Finley Center, a Santa Rosa police official unzipped two black cases and held up two guns for the group to see.
One was a real AK-47-style rifle. The other was the plastic airsoft gun Lopez carried on a sidewalk at the edge of an empty lot in southwest Santa Rosa.
The firearm and airsoft rifle appeared remarkably similar, with matching black banana clips and brown stocks.