A woman was fatally shot by an officer while participating in a “shoot-don’t shoot” exercise during a two-hour citizens academy hosted by the Punta Gorda Police Department in southwest Florida.
Police Chief Tom Lewis said the shooting happened Tuesday night as two of the 35 participants were randomly selected to take part in a live roleplaying scenario “in which they make decisions on using simulated lethal force.”
Lewis said Mary Knowlton, a librarian, was “mistakenly struck with a live round.”
“I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event,” Lewis told reporters during a late-night news conference at the police department. “If you pray, please pray for Mary’s family, and for the officers who were involved. Everyone involved in this accident is in a state of overwhelming shock and grief.”
Knowlton was taken to a hospital in nearby Fort Myers, where she was pronounced dead.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating, Lewis said. He declined to identify the officer involved in the shooting, but said he’s been placed on administrative leave.
A profile on a Facebook page that appeared to be Knowlton’s said she lives in Punta Gorda, but had been a librarian at Scott County Public Library in Savage, Minnesota. She studied library science at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota, and elementary education at George Mason University in Virginia. The profile information said she’s from Austin, Minnesota.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Andy Buckmichael says
Typical idiot cop.
John Hickman says
Why the hell did he have his gun loaded could just use his finger as a gun since just a walk Thur bet the teacher wanted the gun to be use or give out wooden gun cop need at least five years along with instructor
This was a tragic incident for all involved.
Charlie Rhodes says
This is why we teach our kids “do not play with guns” perhaps we need to reeducate some adults.
Very sad for every body involved.
Perhaps next time they should use squirt guns.
Lisa Larson says
Prayers to the families and everyone involved. I’m not here to judge in anyway, I’m just not understanding why they would be using live rounds for a training exercise.
Wow our agency uses blue guns(plastic replicas) for training like that. Unless they were using simunitions. The range master should be fired. That person did not do his or her job. There are ways of ensuring no live ammo on the course…only use one gun on the course, range master and others check and recheck the loads every time someone goes through the course. Poor training management. Really sad and horrible. unnacceptable and no excuse. Criminal negligence. Really.
Another gun happy cop. They love to target practice on innocent victims and on people’s pet dogs.