PALM BAY, Fla. (WFLA) — New details have emerged about the weekend death of a 23-year-old sheriff’s deputy in Florida. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said that Austin Walsh was shot and killed early Saturday by his roommate, fellow deputy Andrew Lawson, in their Palm Bay home.
In an update posted to Facebook, Sheriff Wayne Ivey said that Walsh and his roommate were taking a break from playing online video games with friends when Lawson pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger. The sheriff said Lawson “jokingly” aimed the gun at Walsh, thinking it was not loaded.
Lawson called 911 and reported that he had accidentally shot Walsh and was “fully distraught and devastated” when Palm Bay officers arrived, Ivey said. Officers found Walsh inside the home with a single gunshot wound.
Ivey said the deputies were “the best of friends.” Now, Lawson faces a manslaughter charge. He was held without bond at the Brevard County Jail.
Ivey described the incident as an “extremely dumb and avoidable accident,” saying it “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.”
The Palm Bay Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are still investigating the shooting. “If there is nothing else, I pray there is a lesson learned from this tragedy,” Ivey added.
Walsh joined the sheriff’s office at age 18 after serving as a public safety officer and spending several years in the department’s Explorers youth program.