Sonoma County California Sheriff Deputy Erick Gelhaus
Murdered 13 Year old Andy Lopez
Andy Lopez, 13, Born June 2, 2000 – Murdered October 22, 2013 was an eighth grade student attending Lewis Opportunity School in Santa Rosa. Raised in the Moorland Avenue neighborhood in southwest Santa Rosa. He had transferred to Lewis Opportunity School from Cook Middle School one week prior to being murdered by Sonoma County Sheriff Deputy Erick Gelhaus.
Erick Gelhaus a Sonoma County sheriff deputy worked with the agency for 24 years. Gelhaus is an Iraq war veteran and firearms instructor plus contributing writer to several gun publications. For ten years he was an instructor at Gunsite Academy, an Arizona based company teaching gun-handling, marksmanship, and law enforcement to “elite military personnel, law enforcement officers and citizens.” He specialized in teaching pistol, shotgun, carbine and rifle lessons.
He accidentally shot himself in the leg in 1995 while on duty with the sheriff’s office, while holstering a gun during an attempted search of a teenager for weapons.
Sheriff’s department hides the identity of a killer
Erick Gelhaus Identified As Cop Who Killed Teenager Andy Lopez
Two Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies were patrolling the Moorland Avenue neighborhood when they spotted Andy Lopez, walking away from them who was carrying a toy airsoft AK-47 assault rifle The sheriff’s deputies approached the child from behind and called out to demand that Lopez drop the weapon, which caused Lopez to turn around. One of the deputies remained in the police car not fearing for his life, while the other deputy exited the car and unloaded his weapon firing multiple shots at Lopez. At 3:14 pm Deputy Erick Gelhaus, fired 8 shots at Lopez from his department issued 9 mm handgun. Seven bullets hit Andy within 6 seconds, two of them delivering fatal wounds with one round hitting him on his side while he was turning to face the police (who demanded he turn towards them), according to an autopsy. The deputies then handcuffed a dead child Andy Lopez. When Andy Lopez was searched he was found to have a toy pistol in his waistband. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
August 21, 2013, Santa Rosa resident Jeff Westbrook reported Erick Gelhaus stopped him on U.S. Route 101 near Cotati. Gelhaus approached Westbrook’s BMW, slipping on the steep roadway, after which Westbrook took his vehicle out of park. Gelhaus ordered Westbrook out of the vehicle pointing his gun at Westbrook’s head. Westbrook asked Erick Gelhaus’ supervisor if he could meet with Gelhaus to talk to him about the traffic stop incident, one day after Lopez’s shooting, but Gelhaus was out of office.
ONE SIDED INVESTIGATIONS
October 26, 2013, Federal Bureau of Investigation conducts an independent investigation into the death of Andy Lopez. Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas announces he will cooperate fully with federal investigators. It’s the first time for the FBI to investigate an officer involved shooting in Sonoma County since the 1997 shooting death of Kuan Chung Kao in Rohnert Park.
Investigators claim Gelhaus feared for his safety after demanding Lopez turn around causing the child to turn the barrel of the toy gun in his direction. Gelhaus told investigators he could not remember if he verbally identified himself as a deputy sheriff, although he was in a deputy sheriff’s uniform and marked sheriff’s patrol car before shooting and killing Andy Lopez within seconds.
On July 7, 2014
District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced no charges would be filed against Gelhaus.
Gelhaus was cleared to return to duty on December 9, 2013, but was able to work at his desk and not on patrol.
Self proclaimed gun expert Erick Gelhaus
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Sonoma DA Andy Lopez Report