A Florida police officer accidentally shot and killed a 73-year-old woman during a training exercise Aug. 9.
The Punta Gorda Police Department was hosting a Citizens Academy and called for two volunteers to participate in a role play “shoot/don’t shoot” scenario, News-Press reported.
Among those volunteers was 73-year-old Mary Knowlton. She was shot several times by an officer who was playing a “bad guy,” according to Sue Paquin, a photographer for the Sun who was covering the event.
Knowlton was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Police Chief Tom Lewis called the shooting a “horrible accident.”
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“I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event," Lewis said. "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.”
The officer has been placed on administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates.
Knowlton’s son, Steven Knowlton, said the family was devastated by the news.
“My mom was a saint,” he told "CBS This Morning." “Such a tremendous loss of a wonderful human being and the best mom a kid could ever hope for.”
The two-hour long event was supposed to help educate citizens on local civics, according to the Punta Gorda Police Department’s official website. The class meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays.