A young Florida deputy was accidentally shot and killed by his friend and roommate – also a police officer – after the two took a break from playing videos games together, officials said.
Early Saturday morning, Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Lawson called 911 and told the dispatcher that he had accidentally fired a round at his colleague Austin Walsh, 23, and required urgent assistance.
In a Facebook video posted on Sunday, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said Lawson and Walsh had been playing an online video game just before the tragic shooting occurred.
Officer “Jokingly” Pointed Gun At Friend, Roommate, And Pulled Trigger Thinking He’d Unloaded The Firearm
Lawson reportedly told investigators that he “jokingly” pointed a gun at Walsh before pulling the trigger, all while under the impression that he had previously unloaded the firearm.
Authorities say Walsh was struck once and died at the scene.
“He and Austin had taken a break from playing an online game with a number of their friends and were just kind of standing around talking. Lawson was holding a handgun, which he believed he had unloaded and at one point in their conversation, Lawson, thinking that the gun was unloaded, jokingly pointed the gun in Austin’s direction and pulled the trigger,” Ivey said.
Meanwhile, Lawson was taken into custody on a no-bond warrant by agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on charges of manslaughter, according to Sheriff Ivey’s Facebook post.
Lawson turned himself in on Sunday and has since been charged with manslaughter, WESH reports.
“Austin and Andrew were the best of friends and Andrew was completely devastated over what happened,” Ivey said in a Facebook post. “Even with that, there is no excuse for this tragic and totally avoidable death.”
Florida | Deputy Austin Walsh, 23, was accidentally shot dead by his police roommate on Saturday morning in his Palm Bay, Florida home.
The two were best friends. pic.twitter.com/RPrswWkQwc
— 🅢🅘🅡 🅝🅔🅡🅓🅨 🅐🅓🅓🅘🅒🅣.pdf (@SirNerdyAddict) December 5, 2022
Accidental Shooting Victim Fulfilled Lifelong Dream Of Being Cop After Enrolling In Cadet Program At 18
Sheriff Ivey went on to say that Walsh started with the Brevard County agency at the age of 18 after enrolling in a cadet program, fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a police officer.
“Man, Austin was such a great kid,” Ivey said. “Our hearts are broken at his loss. He will be deeply missed by our agency, our community, and our prayers are with his family.”
Ivey added that Lawson had been deeply “distraught” at the scene of the shooting, and immediately cooperated with responding officers.
So tragic. @SheriffIvey
says this man, 23 yr old Brevard Co. Sheriff’s Deputy, Austin Walsh, was accidentally shot and killed by his roommate, Deputy Andrew Lawson. Lawson pointed what he thought was an unloaded gun at Walsh and fired. Lawson is now charged with manslaughter. pic.twitter.com/0lFYBcCIwy
— Amanda Dukes (@AmandaDukesWESH) December 5, 2022
Sheriff Defends Accused Deputy As A “Great Kid” Who “Sadly Made A Horrible Decision”
He called the accused deputy “a great kid,” who “sadly made a horrible decision.”
“Andrew, he’s a great kid,” Ivey said. “Who sadly made a horrible and irresponsible decision that has forever impacted the lives of so many.”
The shooting reportedly took place while both officers were off-duty.
Meanwhile, Ivey described Walsh as a treasured member of the agency’s family, asking that the public keep him — as well as his loved ones, agency and community — in its thoughts and prayers.