Tags: mary knowlton | police | exercise

Mary Knowlton: Police Exercise Accidental Live Round Kills Her

Image: Mary Knowlton: Police Exercise Accidental Live Round Kills Her

Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis. (Screengrab of Internet-posted video)

Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 05:49 AM

Mary Knowlton, one of several dozen people participating in a police citizens academy in Florida, was killed during a "shoot-don't shoot" exercise when she was hit by a live round.

Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis said the shooting happened Tuesday night as two of the participants were randomly selected to take part in a live role-playing scenario "in which they make decisions on using simulated lethal force," reported The Associated Press.

Lewis said Knowlton, a librarian, was "mistakenly struck with a live round."

"I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event," Lewis told reporters during a late-night news conference at the police department. "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."

Knowlton was taken to a hospital in nearby Fort Myers, where she was pronounced dead.

The citizen's academy is a free, 8-session course designed to provide insight into city government, according to the city's website.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating, Lewis said. He declined to identify the officer involved in the shooting, but said he's been placed on administrative leave.

A profile on a Facebook page that appeared to be Knowlton's said she lives in Punta Gorda, but had been a librarian at Scott County Public Library in Savage, Minnesota. She studied library science at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota, and elementary education at George Mason University in Virginia. The profile information said she's from Austin, Minnesota.

Carolyn Hartwigsen, of Edina, Minnesota, told the AP she was a longtime friend of Knowlton. She said Knowlton had a love of books and tried to instill that in young readers.

"So much is on the internet now. But, books are so important to have in children's hands. That was important to her," Hartwigsen said Wednesday morning.

Hartwigsen said Mary and her husband of more than 50 years would come back to Minnesota periodically to visit.

"She was the salt of the earth, a beautiful soul and the kindest women you would know," she said.

The couple had two sons, Hartwigsen said.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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Mary Knowlton, one of several dozen people participating in a police citizens academy in Florida, was killed during a "shoot-don't shoot" exercise when she was hit by a live round.
mary knowlton, police, exercise
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2016-49-11
Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 05:49 AM
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