Cops Kill 13-Year-Old After Mistaking His Toy Gun for the Real Thing

toy rifleWe have yet another horrifying incident of a child losing his life because of guns this week. A boy from California, who has been identified by his father as 13-year-old Andy Lopez, was shot dead by police officers who mistook a realistic-looking pellet rifle he was holding for the real thing. The child was on his way to a friend's house, according to his dad, and took the pellet gun with him before he left -- it's not clear what he was planning on doing with it.

I want to chastise police for not acting in a more responsible manner. Andy was just a kid who may have left his house carrying this fake gun because he was excited to play cops and robbers. But given the events that are taking place this week in schools, I can't be angry with them. And that's saying a whole lot of (bad stuff) about the situation in our country. 


According to police reports, two deputies repeatedly ordered the teen to drop his weapon. He wouldn't. Then they shot several rounds at him with their handguns and the child fell on top of his rifle. I'm not in law enforcement, so please feel free to correct me on this, but the only thing I could see that the cops possibly did wrong in this situation was not try to wound the boy in the leg or arm first so that he would drop the gun. Given the fact that he wasn't endangering the lives of anyone else, it was probably unnecessary to shoot him dead.

With that said, how are we supposed to know how threatened the cops felt in that moment? Clearly, his young age doesn't mean anything anymore, given the fact that a 14-year-old was charged with murdering his math teacher in Massachusetts and a 12-year-old student in Nevada shot his teacher and wounded two peers this week. I don't blame police for being on high alert these days and for feeling a certain amount of paranoia when it comes to the issue of children and guns. 

If we refuse to make gun control a priority in this country, can we at the very least ban realistic-looking replica guns? Is there any reason on earth a child needs to have one of these in hand? Give him a plastic water gun and tell him to go to town. Play cops and robbers all you want. But as parents we need to understand that our gun culture is so out of control that letting our children have access to a replica gun is just a bad idea, no matter how responsible we are as parents. I feel terrible for this child's family, but I also feel bad for the cops who have to live with the fact that they accidentally killed a child.

Do you think the cops could have handled this situation differently?


Image via Ocean/Corbis

Read More >