A St. Petersburg, Florida police department employee has been fired after accidentally discharging his personal semiautomatic rifle inside the headquarters. The man will not be charged, though he violated department orders, two city rules and a state law.
No one was injured in the June 2017 incident, though the bullet shattered a window across the street.
Scott Hughes, a technician with 10 years of experience in the department, said he had been storing his Colt AR-15 in his locker for years and that his previous supervisor had permitted him to do so. That supervisor has been retired for two years, according to spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez, and the new supervisor was unaware that Hughes was storing his weapon inside the building.
“Everyone needs a reminder once in a while, but it should be self-explanatory that you should not be bringing a weapon to a workplace,” St. Petersburg police chief Tony Holloway told the Tampa Bay Times. “Especially a weapon like that.”
A disciplinary review board that met on Monday concluded Hughes violated two department general orders, two city rules and a state law.
“In this particular situation, because of the investigation, (police commanders) felt it was most appropriately handled as an administrative internal issue rather than a criminal issue,” Fernandez said.
The first city rule Hughes violated forbids all civilian employees from bringing firearms onto city property, and a second city rule was invoked because the June, 2017 incident was a serious infraction.
The board determined that Hughes breached a police department general order that requires employees to be “competent in their assigned duties,” and another that mirrors a state law that prohibits civilians from bringing firearms into police stations, sheriff’s offices and highway patrol stations. Hughes was then fired from the St. Petersburg police department.
There have been incidents where police officers were dismissed over improper use of service weapons. In November 2016, a sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina was fired after accidentally shooting her daughter with her official handgun.