The sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old boy in California after mistaking his toy assault rifle for a real firearm was identified Monday as a decorated officer and a firearms expert.
Erick Gelhaus, a Sonoma County, Calif. sheriff’s deputy, shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez in an incident that has sparked outrage in the community north of San Francisco. Lopez was carrying what appeared to be an AK-47 assault rifle, but was actually a BB gun, when Gelhaus fired eight times, killing the boy. Gelhaus is a firearms instructor who received the sheriff’s medal for valor in 2004 for rescuing people from a burning car, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Gelhaus has also served in the Army Reserve and California National Guard, including a tour in Iraq in 2005.
The FBI has launched an inquiry to determine whether the shooting violated federal civil rights laws.