Officer who shot Andy Lopez, Erick Gelhaus, is a firearms instructor and veteran
The death of Andy Lopez Cruz has rocked the California community as details emerge about the officer who pulled the trigger.
The deputy, identified by sheriff’s officials as Erick Gelhaus, 48, has been on the force 24 years, including 19 as a firearms instructor. He also served 10 years in the military, including a tour in Iraq, said Lorenzo Duenas, the Sonoma County assistant sheriff.
Gelhaus has never fired upon a suspect in his 24 years on the force, sheriff’s officials said. He accidentally shot himself in the leg in 1995 while holstering his firearm on duty, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
In a 2006 post on Firing Line Forum, an online network for gun enthusiasts, Gelhaus wrote about the use of force against someone carrying a BB gun.
“It’s going to come down to YOUR ability to articulate to law enforcement and very likely the Court that you were in fear of death or serious bodily injury,” he wrote, according to the Reuters news service.
And in 2008, Gelhaus wrote an article for S.W.A.T. magazine in which he encouraged officers in an ambush not to “shut down,” the Chronicle reported.
“Today is the day you may need to kill someone in order to go home,” Gelhaus wrote. “If you cannot turn on the ‘mean gene’ for yourself, who will? If you find yourself in an ambush, in the kill zone, you need to turn on that mean gene.”
The boy, age 13, was carrying a plastic replica gun used for air-soft pellets, when he disobeyed the police officer’s request to drop the weapon. It did not have the required orange tip, key in identifying the gun as a fake.
He was shot seven times and killed.