Austin Walsh Brevard County Florida deputy shot dead by best friend, Andrew Lawson after pointing gun at fellow police officer, believing weapon to be unloaded.
America’s tragic love affair with guns continues… A Florida deputy was killed when he was shot dead by a fellow police officer who ‘jokingly’ pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger thinking it was unloaded.
Austin Walsh, 23, with the Brevard County dept was in his Palm Bay home with his roommate and ‘best friend’ Andrew Lawson when he was fatally shot, Saturday morning after playing a round of video games.
The two were talking when Lawson pulled out his gun and pointed it at Walsh and pulled the trigger. Lawson then rushed to call 911 but Walsh ‘succumbed immediately’ to his wounds, according to Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey in a video release.
‘Austin and Andrew were the best of friends, and Andrew is completely devastated over what happened,’ Ivey said. ‘Even with that, there is no excuse for this tragic and totally avoidable death.
Lawson was arrested and charged with manslaughter with a firearm. He was booked at the Brevard County Jail. A mugshot of Lawson wasn’t immediately available.
‘Extremely dumb and totally avoidable accident’
The incident was investigated by the Palm Bay Police Department and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the sheriff said. A Palm Bay police representative on Saturday confirmed one person had been fatally shot at a home in the 700 block of Damascus Avenue Southwest in west Palm Bay, but referred further questions to the FDLE, which he said was in charge of the investigation.
Walsh had been a deputy with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office for five years since the age of 18. Before being sworn in as a deputy, he served as a public safety officer.
His ultimate goal was to eventually become a deputy sheriff.
‘Austin was such a great kid, and our hearts are broken over his loss,’ Ivey said. ‘He will be deeply missed.’
The sheriff recalled Lawson as having a love for his community.
Announcing Walsh’s death and Lawson’s arrest was one of the ‘toughest’ things Ivey has ever had to do, the sheriff said in a Facebook release.
‘This was an extremely dumb and totally avoidable accident, that not only took the life of an amazing young man and deputy, but it has also changed the life of another good young man who made an extremely poor and reckless decision,’ Ivey said.
America’s love affair with guns – but at what cost?
‘I personally know both of these kids and they were the best,’ Ivey continued. ‘Austin was passionate about his job and loved the community he so proudly served. And Andrew, he’s a great kid who sadly made a horrible and irresponsible decision that has forever impacted the lives of so many.’
Ivey said he hopes the fatal shooting helps others rethink their actions.
‘This tragedy has broken our hearts, and knowing Austin and Andrew as I do, I think they would – at the very least – want there to be a lesson somewhere in this message.
‘Somewhere that helps save someone’s life. A message that helps someone else not make the same mistake.’
Tributes poured out for Walsh on social media from strangers and close friends that remembered his smile and kind spirit.
‘Austin Welsh, I knew the second I posted this there was no denying the fact that you are going,’ Christina Henrie wrote. ‘No more calls after work, no more texts telling me to get on [Modern Warfare two], no more nights out, and no more getting into shenanigans at work.
‘On that note, this means our conversations will be through prayers. This means you will always be with me, no matter where I am. This means you will watch over me and everyone that loves you. Most importantly this means the joy, love, and laughter you brought to this world will never be forgotten.’