A 73-year-old Florida woman died after being accidentally shot at a citizen training academy Tuesday evening in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County. The incident happened during a live gun demonstration at police headquarters, according Punta Gorda Police Department.
The victim was identified as Mary Knowlton, who was one of the two Citizen Police Academy students randomly selected for “shoot/don’t shoot” role-playing scenario. The demonstration was to instruct the class about making decisions “using simulated lethal force,” the police department said, in a statement posted on Facebook. Knowlton was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
“I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event. 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,” Punta Gorda Police Department Chief Tom Lewis said, in the statement.
Lewis said that he asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to launch an investigation into the incident.
The police department did not reveal the identity of the officer involved in the shooting, but they said that the officer has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation.
The citizen training academy is a free eight-session course provided to about 35 people keen to learn local civics, according to Punta Gorda’s official website.
“The academy is designed to give citizens an up-close and personal look at how City government functions and helps shape our community,” the website states.