SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Sheriff's officials say the Northern California deputy who fatally shot a 13-year-old boy is a firearms instructor who has trained his law enforcement colleagues in the proper use of force for nearly two decades.
Sonoma County spokesman Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas said 48-year-old Erick Gelhaus has been an instructor and rangemaster for the county for 19 years. He also teaches pistol, carbine, shotgun and rifle lessons for Gunsite, a private company in Arizona, according to the company's Web site.
Gelhaus, a 24-year sheriff's office veteran, is a frequent contributor to S.W.A.T. magazine, a monthly firearms publication.
Duenas confirmed that Gelhaus is one of 26 gun instructors for Sonoma County. He has not only given shooting lessons but also has provided instruction on the proper use of force, Duenas said.
To do that job, "you've got to be good at instructing others," Duenas said, adding: "You have to be able to instruct others on policy and procedures and use-of-force policy issues."
Gelhaus shot and killed Andy Lopez last week in Santa Rosa. Investigators say Gelhaus mistook the pellet gun Lopez was carrying for an assault rifle.
Duenas says the sheriff's office is dealing with threats against Gelhaus and would take steps to protect him if necessary.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 people turned out for a service to remember the teen on Sunday.
Hundreds were expected at a march scheduled for Tuesday at noon in Santa Rosa.