Image via screenshot/CBS

A woman is dead after being fatally shot during a live gun demonstration in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Local CBS affiliate WINK reports that Mary Knowlton was one of two participants randomly selected during a “Citizen’s Police Academy” session in order to demonstrate what to do during a “shoot/don’t shoot” situation.


According to Police Chief Thomas Lewis, the demonstration was intended to teach the class best practices in “using simulated lethal force.”

Knowlton was accidentally struck with a live round. She was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.


Lewis has since called the incident, which occurred August 9, a “horrible accident.” In a statement to the press, he said:

“I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event... 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 Florida Department of Law Enforcement will conduct an investigation into the tragic incident – a common scenario for officer-involved shootings. The officer involved in the incident has been placed on administrative leave. They have not been identified at this time.