PALM BAY, Florida (WJW) – A sheriff’s deputy was killed after his roommate, a fellow deputy, accidentally shot him in Palm Bay, Florida, investigators say.
According to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, it happened while the deputies were at home off-duty Saturday morning.
Investigators say the deputies had taken a break from playing video games when Deputy Andrew Lawson allegedly pointed a gun at Deputy Austin Walsh, 23, and pulled the trigger as a joke, believing it was unloaded.
Lawson immediately called 911 for help, but Walsh was pronounced dead at the scene from a single gunshot wound, investigators say.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who spoke on a Facebook livestream over the weekend, said Lawson was taken into custody on manslaughter charges.
Ivey said the incident was an “extremely dumb and avoidable accident.”
“This unnecessary and totally avoidable incident not only took the life of an amazing young man and deputy, but it has also forever changed the life of another good young man who made an extremely poor and reckless decision,” Ivey said. “If there’s nothing else, I pray there’s a lesson learned from this tragedy.”
The Palm Bay Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are investigating the shooting.
Ivey said Lawson has fully cooperated with investigators.
“At this time, we ask that you keep Austin, his family, our agency, and our entire community in your thoughts and prayers as we collectively face the most difficult of times,” the sheriff’s office said in an earlier Facebook post.
Ivey said the deputies were best friends and loved serving the community.
Walsh had been with the agency since he was 18.