Sheriff: Deputy Killed Friend in 'Dumb, Avoidable' Accident

Andrew Lawson 'jokingly' pulled trigger on gun he thought was unloaded, sheriff says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2022 12:32 PM CST
Sheriff: Deputy Killed Friend in 'Dumb, Avoidable' Accident
Austin Walsh.   (Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

One sheriff's deputy in Florida is dead and another is facing a manslaughter charge after what Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey says was "an extremely poor and reckless decision." The sheriff's office says 23-year-old deputy Austin Walsh was fatally shot Saturday morning by his best friend and roommate, deputy Andrew Lawson, Fox 35 reports. The sheriff's office says the Palm Bay Police Department responded to a 911 call from a "distraught" Lawson on Saturday. Lawson told officers that they had been standing around talking after playing an online video game and he "jokingly" pointed a handgun he thought he had unloaded at Walsh and pulled the trigger, the sheriff's office says.

Walsh was hit by a bullet and "apparently succumbed immediately" to the gunshot wound, Ivey says. The sheriff says it was a "clearly dumb and avoidable accident." He says that while Lawson is "completely devastated," there is "no excuse for this tragic and totally avoidable death," NBC reports. The sheriff describes Walsh, who had been with the sheriff's office since he was 18 and was with its youth Explorers program before that, as an "amazing young man." Ives says both deputies were "good kids" and Saturday was one of the toughest days of his career. "If nothing else, I pray there is a lesson learned from this tragedy," he says. Lawson was taken into custody on a no-bond warrant and could face up to 15 years in prison for manslaughter, WESH reports. (Read more Florida stories.)

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