A Frederick County Sheriff's Office courthouse deputy is on leave after a member of his family shot herself with his agency-issued firearm.
Deputies were called to the home of the man, who is a non-sworn civilian courthouse deputy, for the report of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the early morning hours of Feb. 27.
The family member later died at Frederick Memorial Hospital. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said today that two investigators in his office are conducting a criminal death investigation and an internal investigation.
He said the shooting was not disclosed because it was a suicide and the office has a policy of not publicizing such deaths. Jenkins said the fact that an agency-issued firearm was used does not change that policy. He said other agencies have experienced similar shootings, which were not made public.
“This is a very, very personal tragedy,” Jenkins said. “It's a terrible thing.”
Jenkins said he would not comment on agency policies regarding storage of duty weapons when deputies were at home. He also declined to confirm the name of the courthouse deputy.
George Bransom is a firearms instructor with the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions, the organization that certifies police officers and police agencies in the state.
Bransom said the state trains officers to always keep their service weapons unloaded while at home. Law enforcement officers should also store the ammunition separately and use a secondary security device, such as a safe or lock, Bransom said.
However, he added that the training recommendations are not required and each police agency has their own policies on firearms.
Bransom said it is misdemeanor crime to keep a loaded gun accessible to a child under the age of 16. The deputy has a young child.
Scanner communications obtained by The Frederick News-Post revealed that the Sheriff's Office set up a command post outside the home for several hours. At least six responders identified themselves by number during communications about the shooting. At one point during the shooting, a member of the sheriff's office asked which units were available for service; a dispatcher responded that there were two. The units were told to stay central.