Skip to main content

Minnesota native killed during Florida citizen police academy session

She was a retired librarian from Austin, Minnesota.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

A Minnesota native was fatally shot in a "shoot/don't shoot" citizen police academy session in Florida Tuesday.

Mary Knowlton, a 73-year-old retired librarian originally from Austin, Minnesota, was among the 35 people to attend the citizen police academy hosted by the Punta Gorda Police Department, a news release says.

She was picked to participate in a "shoot/don't shoot" scenario, where "they make decisions on using simulated lethal force in a live role play."

Knowlton was playing the victim when an officer, who was playing a "bad guy," fired several times at her, the Charlotte Sun reports. Knowlton was mistakenly struck with a live round, the police department's news release says. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Charlotte Sun says these role play scenarios are usually safe, and are acted out with fake or empty guns.

Police haven't given details on how the incident unfolded or why there was live ammunition in the officer's gun. Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis said at a news conference Tuesday night he is "devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event," noting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the incident.

The officer involved, who hasn't been identified, has been placed on administrative leave.

According to Knowlton's Facebook page, she was from Austin, Minnesota, and worked at Scott County Library, before moving to Florida. She also served on the Friends of the Punta Gorda Library board of directors, according to the group's website.

Next Up


With 48 charged, aftershocks of Feeding Our Future fraud case continue

The Minnesota Department of Education is seeking to recoup taxpayer money lost in a "sham lawsuit" related to the alleged fraud.

Screen Shot 2022-09-21 at 12.46.46 PM

Charges: Ineligible man had guns, over 15,000 rounds of ammo

A search of the man's vehicle and house turned up multiple firearms.


Missing Rochester girl is found safe

She had been reported missing after last being seen Monday.

Screen Shot 2022-09-21 at 7.18.30 AM

Here are the largest hail reports to NWS Twin Cities Tuesday night

River Falls got hit by some massive hail Tuesday night.


Police: Man jumped on train, attacked engineer with knife near St. Cloud

The rock train had just left St. Cloud when the suspect jumped aboard.


Florida officer charged in shooting death of MN native during citizen police academy

Mary Knowlton was killed during a "shoot/don't shoot" scenario.

City fires Florida officer who fatally shot MN native during a police drill

Last August, Mary Knowlton was killed during a citizen police academy in Florida.

Update: BCA says officers' body cams were not turned on during fatal Minneapolis police shooting

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating.

Liquor store owner killed in Hibbing, police launch homicide probe

The 60 year old died from homicidal violence, police say.

Police: Woman threatens to kill McDonald's workers, then jokes about it and walks out

A strange scene at a McDonald's in central Minnesota Wednesday night.