Ocala Police officer killed during firearms training session
(Ocala Star Banner) OCALA, Fla. – A 33-year-old Ocala Police Department officer was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow officer Monday during firearms training at the Lowell Correctional Institution.
Jared Forsyth and the second officer were taking part in routine training at the firing range and had completed live firing at about 3 pm. They were in an area where weapons are cleaned when the accident happened, according to OPD Chief Greg Graham.
The second officer’s weapon discharged, striking Forsyth in the arm. The bullet traveled through the officer’s arm and into his chest. Forsyth was wearing a bulletproof vest, but the sides are not protected with bullet-resistant material, Graham said.
A somber Graham said the officer was resuscitated by paramedics once in the ambulance on the way to Ocala Regional Medical Center and at least twice in the emergency room before he was rushed to surgery. Forsyth died on the operating table.
Police did not release the identity of the second officer involved in the shooting at the direction of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is investigating the incident, said Sgt. Angy Scroble, OPD spokeswoman.
“The last on-duty death that we had was 60 years ago, and words can’t express the sorrow that I feel for losing an officer,” Graham said, his voice barely audible.
“So if you pray, please pray for my officers. Pray for the one who didn’t survive. Pray for the one that hopefully will survive,” Graham said.
Before addressing the media, Graham spoke with Forsyth’s fellow patrol officers. He said the officers were devastated.
“Jared wasn’t just a coworker. Jared was a friend. He was a great guy. When you work with someone as closely as these guys and girls do, and then fellowship with them after work, we’re family. It’s like losing a family member. It’s like your brother just passed away,” Graham said.
Earlier, a steady stream of officers, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, walked into OPD headquarters on 402 S. Pine Ave. Some were teary-eyed and at least one was openly weeping.
Others hugged one another and uniformed officers were already wearing black bands on their badges.
Three officers stepped to the front of the building where two flagpoles stand and ceremoniously lowered the flags to half-staff in honor of the fallen officer.
Forsyth would have celebrated three years with the department on April 16. He is survived by his mother and stepfather.
The firearm involved in the shooting was a .40-caliber Glock. OPD officers go through live firearms training twice every year.
The latest round of training started in January. Several officers were at the range during the incident and firearms instructors were also on scene.
Training is held every Monday. It was not clear if next week’s firearms training will go on as scheduled.
“It’s something we will evaluate in the coming days,” Graham said.
After FDLE completes its investigation, Graham said the department will determine if its firearm protocols were followed.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” he said.