An off-duty US Park Police officer fatally shot a fellow officer at a gathering inside a Virginia apartment over the weekend by “unintentionally” pulling the trigger on a firearm he thought was unloaded, police said.
Alexander Robinson Roy, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and initially was held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center in the shooting death of his 22-year-old colleague, Jesse Brown Hernandez, according to police and court records.
Roy appeared in court Wednesday and was given an unsecured bond of $10,000 under a supervised release program, the Fairfax County Criminal Clerk of Court told CNN. No plea has been entered yet, the clerk’s office said. Roy was expected to be released on that bond Wednesday, his attorney, Ed Nuttall, told CNN.
As the US gun violence epidemic continues, accidents accounted for about 1% of all gun-related deaths in 2021, the Pew Research Center reported this year, citing the most recent available data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the Virginia case, four people who knew each other were in the apartment when the shooting happened, police said. Authorities responded early Sunday morning in McLean, about 10 miles outside Washington, DC, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release that day. Three were off-duty officers of the US Park Police, a federal law enforcement agency under the National Park Service.
When authorities arrived, Hernandez was found dead with a gunshot wound to his upper body after Roy tried to “dry fire” or “simulate the discharge of a firearm by pulling the trigger,” preliminary details from detectives reveal.
“Roy unintentionally shot the firearm he believed to be unloaded, fatally striking Hernandez,” police said. “Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the shooting.”
What happened is “an awful, tragic, horrible mistake that ended tragically,” Roy’s attorney, Nuttall, told CNN in a phone interview Wednesday.
“The Hernandez and Roy families are working through that tragedy, processing what happened individually and collectively as a group, trying to get through this,” Nuttall said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the weapon used to kill Hernandez was Roy’s Park Police service weapon, what relationship the two shared outside work and how long each had been with the federal agency.
US Park Police deferred all questions to the Fairfax County Police Department, which is investigating.
“Our focus right now is on supporting the family, friends and coworkers of our employees involved in this tragic incident,” US Park Police spokesperson Thomas Twiname told CNN Tuesday in a statement.
As part of Roy’s release on bond, he must live with his parents in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, his attorney told CNN. Other conditions include no alcohol, no firearms and no law violations, Nuttall said.
Fairfax County prosecutors will likely pursue an “emergency substantial risk order” for Roy, and a hearing for that is set for November 16, Nuttall said. The order is sought when “a person poses a substantial risk of personal injury to himself or others in the near future by such person’s possession or acquisition of a firearm,” according to a government website explaining Virginia’s laws.
Roy’s case is otherwise continued until February, court records show.
Hernandez, meanwhile, is being remembered by his former school in Michigan.
“We are saddened to hear the tragic news of the death of our lovely former student, Officer Jesse Brown Hernandez ’15,” St. Germaine Catholic School wrote on Facebook.
“We send our thoughts and prayers to Jesse’s family and friends at this difficult time. Jesse was a kind and respectful student and we know the school community will remember him with great warmth and affection.”
CNN’s Sarah Dewberry and Jennifer Henderson contributed to this story.
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