Fla. deputy, 23, dies after officer roommate 'jokingly' fires gun he thought was unloaded

"There is no excuse for this tragic and totally avoidable death," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said

By Simone Jasper
The Charlotte Observer

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A deputy shot and killed a fellow cop in a “tragic accident” at their Florida home, officials said.

Austin Walsh dreamed of being a deputy before he began a five-year career with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. He was off duty when he died as a result of his roommate’s “reckless actions” on Saturday, Dec. 3, according to his department.

“Our hearts are broken over his loss,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a video posted to Facebook. “He will be deeply missed by our agency, our community, and our prayers are with his family.”

The 23-year-old was playing an online game with his roommate when the two reportedly took a break. The roommate was holding a gun he thought wasn’t loaded, “jokingly pointed the gun in Austin’s direction and pulled the trigger,” Ivey said.

The accused shooter was identified as fellow deputy Andrew Lawson, according to WFLA and other news outlets. Officials didn’t share attorney information for him in their Facebook post.

Ivey said Lawson called 911 after firing a single shot that hit his roommate, killing him immediately. The incident was reported in Palm Bay, roughly 170 miles north of Miami.

Lawson, who had been one of Walsh’s close friends, “was taken into custody on a no-bond warrant by agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for manslaughter with a firearm,” according to the sheriff.

“There is no excuse for this tragic and totally avoidable death,” Ivey said.

Deputies said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Palm Bay Police Department independently investigated the case. Lawson was taken to the Brevard County jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

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