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Off-Duty Florida Sheriff’s Deputy Fatally Shot By Fellow Deputy While Playing Video Games

Palm Bay, FL – An off-duty 23-year-old Brevard County sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot by his roommate, who is fellow deputy, as they were taking a break from playing video games in  the early hours of Saturday morning.

The incident occurred at a residence on Damascus Avenue in the southwestern area of Palm Bay on Dec.3, WFTV reported.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said during a press conference on Sunday that Deputy Andrew Lawson and Deputy Austin Walsh had been playing an online video game with friends early Saturday morning and paused for a break.

That’s when Deputy Lawson “jokingly pointed” a handgun at 23-year-old Deputy Walsh and pulled the trigger, Sheriff Ivey said.

The bullet struck Deputy Walsh.

The sheriff said Deputy Lawson mistakenly believed the gun was unloaded.

Deputy Lawson immediately called 911 and told them he accidently shot his roommate, according to Sheriff Ivey.

Palm Bay Police Department (PBPD) officers responded to the scene and were met by off-duty Deputy Lawson, who the sheriff described as being “fully distraught and devastated.”

Police located Deputy Walsh inside the home.

“He had apparently succumbed immediately as a result of a single gunshot wound,” Sheriff Ivey said.

The sheriff described the incident as a “tragic accident” and said Deputy Lawson was fully cooperative with investigators.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is handling the ongoing investigation into the shooting.

Deputy Walsh had been a part of the department since he was 18 years old, Sheriff Ivey said.

He served as a public safety officer until he graduated from the law enforcement academy, then went on to serve as a deputy sheriff in the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office’s (BCSO) West and South Precincts.

He had also been a volunteer member of the agency’s Explorer’s program in the past.

Deputy Walsh was “a treasured member” of the sheriff’s office’s family, and he was passionate about his law enforcement career, Sheriff Ivey said.

“Austin was such a great kid, and our hearts are broken over his loss,” the sheriff continued. “He will be deeply missed by our agency [and] our community, and our prayers are with his family.”

Sheriff Ivey said the tragic incident marked one of the most difficult moments in his entire career.

“I have to stand here and talk about the loss of one of my deputies, who I love so much, as a 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,” he said.

Sheriff Ivey said the fatally shooting was “extremely dumb and totally avoidable,” but noted he doesn’t believe Officer Lawson had any “malicious intent.”

He said the two deputies were “the best of friends” and that Deputy Lawson is “completely devastated over what happened.”

Deputy Lawson was taken into custody by the FDLE on Sunday on a no-bond warrant for manslaughter with a firearm.

He was subsequently booked into the Brevard County Jail, Sheriff Ivey confirmed.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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