Ricocheting bullet kills Ocala police officer in training exercise

By Julie Gargotta and Dave D'Marko, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 07, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

Flags remain at half-staff in honor of the Ocala police officer killed in an accidental shooting Monday.

Officer Jared Forsyth was hit around 3 p.m. after a semi-annual training session at Lowell Correctional Institution, 11120 NW Gainesville Road.

Police said it happened as another officer was unloading his .40-caliber Glock. The bullet ricocheted off a bench and entered the 33-year-old’s arm and chest, missing Forsyth's bulletproof vest.

He was rushed to Ocala Regional Medical Center in critical condition, but died during surgery.

Police Chief Greg Graham said the officer’s death is like losing a family member. Many of Forsyth’s fellow officers stayed home Tuesday to grieve.

Ocala's mayor also stopped by the department Tuesday to see how officers were coping.

"When these officers cry, I cry," said Mayor Kent Guinn. "When they hurt, I hurt and that special bond they have between them is just the most amazing thing you've ever seen."

Forsyth joined the department in 2012 after moving from New York and completing recruit school at the College of Central Florida.

"He was just completing his third year here and he was excited and happy," said Sgt. Angy Scroble, an Ocala police spokeswoman. "This was his dream job and he was loving every minute of what he was doing."

The weapon that killed Forsyth was the same officers carry each day. Unloading and securing weapons before cleaning was standard procedure, Scroble said.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized. Forsyth’s mother may be traveling to Florida Tuesday or Wednesday where he will be honored with a service before being transported home to New York.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting. The officer involved in the shooting is on paid leave, but receiving plenty of support.

"We mourn the loss of Officer Forsyth and we pray that the other officer is able to find a way to deal with this issue and what went on," Scroble said.

Following FDLE's investigation, Graham said they’ll review their policies and procedures.

“It would be premature for me to say that we’ve done anything wrong necessarily but believe me, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again," said Graham.

Forsyth is survived by his mother and stepfather.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol are helping cover the duties of officers who are grieving at home.