CRESTVIEW — An Okaloosa County Jail officer who accidentally shot herself at a local gun range is still hospitalized four days later.
The 31-year-old woman accidentally shot herself in the leg while holstering her gun, according to preliminary reports from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office. The incident happened on Dec. 18 at about 9 a.m. at the Grimes Avenue shooting range.
The first deputy to arrive noticed boots, medical supplies, blood and portions of clothing on the grass and concrete sidewalk at what is commonly referred to as the "seven-yard line," the report said. The sidewalk is seven yards from the targets and is used for the firearms qualification course.
The deputy also noted what appeared to be an impact mark from a projectile on the sidewalk.
Witnesses said they were ordered to holster their weapons and then heard a shot. They then heard the victim scream and saw blood pouring from her legs, the report said.
One of the witnesses removed her gun from the holster, extracted the magazine and ejected the chambered round, before placing it in the grass nearby. An examination of the holster revealed that the gun was fired while it was in the holster.
Other participants helped the officer to the ground and rendered medical aid.
The jail has used the shooting range at least 10 times for officer qualification without incident, the report noted.
"This was part of the standard Florida Department of Law Enforcement course of fire," said Stefan Vaughn, director of the jail. He said the officer had already received the same training in the academy and had come to them from another agency.
"She is expected to make as close to a full recovery as possible," he said. "She has substantial injury to her right leg. We do look forward to her return after several months."
Vaughn said gun range accidents do happen occasionally and often with much worse outcomes.
He said a range master was standing right behind the officer and that she was doing everything appropriately at the time of the accident. He guessed her finger accidentally hit the trigger.
"I'm glad she's alive to tell the story," he said.