A Florida police officer conducting a community training program accidentally shot and killed a 73-year-old woman who had volunteered to play the role of a “bad guy” during an exercise that took place on Tuesday night. Mary Knowlton, a librarian, was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead after sustaining a single gunshot wound, after being “mistakenly struck with a live round,” Punta Gorda police chief Tom Lewis told reporters. Knowlton had volunteered and was randomly selected to play the role of an assailant in the two-hour interactive demonstration that’s designed to show how police make quick decisions in real-time on whether or not to use lethal force.
Witnesses said they that when they saw Knowlton go down after the officer fired, they thought it was all part of the demonstration. To their shock and horror, Knowlton never got up and the gravity of what actually happened — a terrible error — quickly sank in. Officers taking part in the demonstration were supposed to be using guns loaded with blanks, but the officer who fired at Knowlton had one live round in his weapon. An investigation is under way into how such a mistake could occur.
“I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event,” Lewis said during a late-night news conference. “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.”
According to her Facebook page, Knowlton lived in Punta Gorda and was a librarian at a local library as well as serving on its board of directors. Her timeline features several photos of her alongside her husband, with whom she moved to Florida from Minnesota in recent years.
Read the full story at The Guardian.