PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff says a deputy mistakenly shot and killed his roommate, who was also a deputy, when the two were playing an online game with friends while off duty .
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey called the shooting “an extremely stupid and completely avoidable accident” in a video posted on social media Sunday afternoon, announcing the 23-year-old’s death. Deputy Sheriff Andrew Lawson was charged with manslaughter.
Deputy Austin Walsh, 23, died at the scene at their Palm Cove apartment early Saturday morning.
The roommates had stopped playing online games and stood chatting when Lawson pulled out a gun he thought was unloaded and pointed it at Walsh “jokingly,” the sheriff said. A bullet hit Walsh.
Lawson immediately called 911 and was “distraught” and “devastated” when emergency responders arrived, Ivey said. Lawson is cooperating fully with the investigation conducted by Florida law enforcement and the Palm Cove Police Department.
A deputy believed he was shooting at his roommate when the shots rang out, authorities said. (WESH, FDLE Arrest Affidavit, Brevard County Sheriff, CNN)
Ivey said Lawson and Walsh were best friends and roommates.
“Folks, this unnecessary and entirely avoidable incident not only took the life of a wonderful young man and deputy, but has forever changed the life of another fine young man who made terribly bad and reckless decisions, ’ said Ivey.
The sheriff said Walsh had worked at the agency since he was 18.
“Austin was a wonderful kid and we are all heartbroken by his loss. He will be deeply missed by our institution, our community and our prayers are with his family,” Ivey said.
Lawson was taken to the Brevard County Jail on a “no bond” warrant, the sheriff said. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
The sheriff called Lawson “a great kid who tragically made a terrible, irresponsible decision that has forever affected so many.”
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. all rights reserved.