Brevard County Deputy Austin Walsh killed after fellow deputy 'jokingly' fired gun he thought was unloaded

Deputy Andrew Lawson arrested on manslaughter charge after 'extremely dumb' accident, sheriff says
Austin Walsh, Brevard County deputy killed in accidental shooting
Posted at 11:54 AM, Dec 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-05 16:53:50-05

MELBOURNE, Fla. — A Florida deputy was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow deputy in what the sheriff called an "extremely dumb and totally avoidable accident."

Brevard County Sheriff's Office Deputy Austin Walsh was fatally shot Saturday morning by his roommate, Deputy Andrew Lawson, in Palm Bay, Sheriff Wayne Ivey said Sunday.

The deputies were taking a break from playing an online game with friends and "were just kind of standing around, talking" when Lawson, "thinking that the gun was unloaded, jokingly pointed the gun in Austin's direction and pulled the trigger," Ivey said.

Lawson, who was off duty at the time, called 911, Ivey said.

The deputies were "the best of friends" and Lawson was "completely devastated" about what happened, Ivey said.

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"Even with that, there is no excuse for this tragic and totally avoidable death," Ivey said.

Lawson was arrested Sunday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on a manslaughter charge.

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

Lawson was being held without bond at the county jail.

"If nothing else, I pray there is a lesson learned from this tragedy," Ivey said.