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Residents mourn, hold benefit at Andy Lopez shooting site

  • From left, Angela Vazquez, Yesenia Arreguin, Miranda Vazquez and Keyleen Lopez (no relation to Andy Lopez) sell candles Saturday with proceeds going to Andy Lopez's family during a community get-together at the lot where the boy was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy. (Kent Porter / PD)

The grassy field next to where 13-year-old Andy Lopez died hosted a potluck fundraiser Saturday afternoon to support the boy's family.

Dozens of residents who live near Moorland Avenue visited the site both to pay their respects to Lopez's parents and eat traditional holiday Mexican food, such as pozole and buñuelos.

There was also pizza and pasta for younger, more Americanized visitors.

Community Gathering For Andy Lopez Family

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“We're not selling food; we're just coming together as a community to mourn with the family,” said Alma Yanez, who lives off Moorland Avenue, a few blocks north of where Lopez was shot.

On Oct. 22, Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot and killed Lopez after he mistook the BB gun Lopez was carrying for a real assault rifle. Lopez was walking north on the west side of Moorland Avenue carrying the gun, which was designed to look like an AK-47, in his left hand.

Gelhaus and another deputy were driving on a routine patrol when they came up behind Lopez. Gelhaus told police investigators that he thought the weapon Andy was carrying was real.

He said he ordered the boy to drop the weapon and fired when the boy turned around because he feared for his life.

The site where Lopez died has become sacred ground for some local residents, who for nearly two weeks have held nightly vigils and rosaries. A 19-foot-long plywood shrine, painted white and decorated with lights and white sheets, was erected Friday.

On Saturday, the boy's parents, Rodrigo and Sujey Lopez, placed fresh roses and a white teddy bear at the shrine just before they sat down on metal folding chairs that were placed in the dry grassy field near where the food was being served.

A number of folding tables were set up by local residents for people to eat. The family declined interviews with the media.

Maria Ayon, a west Santa Rosa mom who attended the potluck with her family, said she has participated in every march and rally sparked by the shooting.

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