One dead after "horrible accident" at Punta Gorda Citizen Police Academy

Posted at 10:11 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 15:14:49-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- One woman is dead after a "horrible accident" at a Citizen Academy at the Punta Gorda Police Department. 

 The Punta Gorda Police Department hosted approximately 35 civilians from the community for a two hour Citizen Police Academy, during which time two participants were randomly selected to be put through a “shoot/don’t shoot” scenario in which they make decisions on using simulated lethal force in a live role play.

During the first scenario, participant Mary Knowlton was struck with a live round and was fatally injured. She was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Chief Tom Lewis stated, “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.”

Chief Tom Lewis contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to respond and begin an investigation into the events surrounding this incident. The involved officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation. Florida Department of Law Enforcement personnel are now on scene and have taken command of the investigation.

Count on Four In Your Corner as this is a developing story.