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Deputy Accidentally Kills Best Friend After ‘Jokingly’ Firing Gun He Thought Was Empty: Police

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Gretchen Clayson Contributor
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A 23-year old Florida sheriff’s deputy died after his friend and fellow deputy accidentally shot him with a gun he believed to be empty early Saturday morning.

Roommates Andrew Lawson and Austin Walsh had just finished playing an online game with friends when Lawson pulled out a gun he believed to be empty, “jokingly” pointed it at Walsh and pulled the trigger, according to a statement released via Facebook video by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.

A single round struck Walsh, ending his life in what Ivey described as a “dumb and totally avoidable accident.”


“This is one of the toughest days of my career as 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 and who has been a good kid his entire life,” Ivey said. (RELATED: 5-Year Old Boy Kills 8-Year Old Brother In Tragic Accident, According To Police)

Though Ivey maintained that Lawson and Walsh were the “best of friends” and that Lawson is “completely devastated” over what occurred, Lawson was taken into custody on a no-bond warrant by agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and charged with manslaughter — a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, according to WESH news.

“Folks, this unnecessary and totally avoidable incident not only took the life of an amazing young man and deputy but it also forever changed the life of another good young man, who made an extremely poor and reckless decision,” Ivey said.

Ivey expressed his hope that Lawson’s mistake will serve as a message and a reminder that might save someone else’s life in the future.

“This tragedy has broken our hearts,” he said.