Authorities in Florida said a sheriff’s deputy was accidentally killed Saturday when his roommate pulled the trigger of a gun he thought was unloaded. The roommate worked for the same sheriff’s office.
Austin Walsh, 23, was at home in Palm Bay with his friend Andrew Lawson when the fatal shot was fired, according to Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
After Walsh was hit in the early hours of Saturday, Lawson immediately called 911 to get help for his friend, but Walsh “suffered immediately,” according to Ivey.
In a video shared on Facebook Sunday, Ivey described the circumstances in which Walsh’s tragic death unfolded.
“This afternoon I have to stand here and talk about the loss of one of my deputies who I love so much as the result of the reckless actions of another one of our deputies, who I also love,” he said.
Walsh and Lawson had taken a break from playing an online game with a few of their friends just moments before the shooting, according to Ivey. Ivey described the two as “just kind of standing around, talking.”
“Lawson was holding a handgun that he thought he had unloaded, and at one point during their conversation, Lawson—thinking the gun was unloaded—jokingly pointed the gun in Austin’s direction and pulled the trigger.”
Following Walsh’s death, Lawson cooperated with Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators and surrendered to authorities on Sunday. He is now charged with manslaughter.
Ivey said that Walsh had been with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office since he was 18, previously serving as a public safety officer before attending law enforcement academy. Ivey said that Walsh had “always dreamed” of becoming a deputy sheriff.
“Austin and Andrew were the best of friends, and Andrew is completely devastated over what happened,” Ivey continued. “Even with that, there is no excuse for this tragic, and totally avoidable death.”
Ivey expressed regret that the incident “not only took the life of an incredible 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.”
“Our hearts have been broken by this tragedy,” Ivey added. “And knowing Austin and Andrew as I do, I believe they would want a lesson somewhere in this message, somewhere that helps save someone’s life.”