Fla. woman shot, killed in police-led self defense class

Around 35 people were watching a shoot / don't shoot demonstration inside the Punta Gorda police department

A woman was shot and killed during a self defense class in Punta, Gorda, Florida.


PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (CBS) – Florida investigators are trying to figure out how a woman was killed during a police department gun demonstration. It happened Tuesday night in front of a few dozen people in Punta Gorda, south of Tampa.

Around 35 people were watching a shoot / don’t shoot demonstration inside the Punta Gorda police department when something went terribly wrong.

“Our entire police department and all of our city leaders are absolutely devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event,” said Chief Thomas Lewis, Punta Gorda Police Department.

Mary Knowlton, 73, a board member at the local library, was a student at the department’s Citizen Police Academy when she was mistakenly hit with a live round.

Police say it happened during the first scenario, when officers were instructing the class “using simulated lethal force.

“Everyone involved is in an overwhelming state of shock and grief,” Lewis said.

The officer involved in the accidental shooting, who was not identified, has been put on administrated leave.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is heading the investigation.

The academy is a free eight-session course offered to people who are interested in learning local civics, according to Punta Gorda’s official website.

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