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Keeping Andy Lopez alive when he would be turning 15


Keeping Andy Lopez alive
when he would be turning 15

By Vesta Copestakes

On June 2, there was a gathering in Santa Rosa to remember Andy Lopez, the 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy shot and killed by Sonoma Sheriff Deputy Erik Gelhaus. June 2 would have been Andy’s 15th birthday.

Though time has passed, Andy has not been forgotten and the issues raised by his death remain. There has been progress to bring positive good from this tragedy.  There is more that can be accomplished as well. 

When we examine the past to learn where we went wrong and what we can now do right with that knowledge, the examination sheds light where there has been darkness. We will continue looking back so that we can move forward with positive intent.

Anyone with thoughts to share about Andy, the shooting, or any of the issues raised by Andy’s death can share them at 707 861-8166. You need not provide your name and contact info for response, but doing so is encouraged. Some of the comments collected will be shared in a later edition of the Gazette. If you prefer to email your comments or stories, please send them to

Many years ago I read a children's book about the story of a young girl who lost her beloved brother to sudden death. In deep sorrow, her father refused to let anyone talk about his son so that he would not have to continue living in pain from his loss.

But the boy's sister loved to talk about her brother because she could keep him alive with her stories. When her father learned of this he was enraged. But she begged him to see that by remembering the young man they loved, he lived on in their hearts.

The father saw that this was true and started telling his own stories. With each story his heart softened and he was once more able to feel love in his heart instead of intense pain.

And perhaps as we move forward with our desire to fix what is broken, our stories, memories, re-examination of what went wrong that day and what we can do to prevent more of the same, is what will give Andy’s life - and death – positive purpose.