Details Emerge In Explosion That Took SWAT Officer's Life
The Daily Mail via YellowBrix
February 28, 2011
CHARLOTTE, NC – A SWAT officer has died after he was checking a stun grenade in his home when it went off.
Officer Fred Thornton was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery but doctors were unable to save him.
The 50-year-old veteran, who was the longest serving SWAT officer on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg force in North Carolina and had previously helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was just months away from becoming eligible for retirement.
As his body was taken from Carolinas Medical Center officers stood to attention and saluted their colleague, a policeman of 28 years and 23 years on the SWAT team.
The married father of four had returned home from serving a search warrant with his SWAT team late on Friday afternoon and was checking over his weapons, including the stun grenade.
It is then thought to have gone off in his hand, causing massive internal bleeding and was so loud neighbours could hear the blast.
Paramedics were called and the well-liked officer was rushed to hospital to undergo emergency surgery.
According to reports, senior colleagues were at a retirement dinner when they heard the news and promptly left to offer their support.
But despite doctors efforts his blood loss was too great and he later died.
As news of his death spread, dozens of police patrol cars formed a procession with their lights and sirens on in respect.
Police Chief Rodney Monroe said through tears: ‘This is a sad day. It is just one more example of the work we expect from our people and the risk that they’re involved in every day and the risks that all too often costs our members their lives.’
He added that all SWAT officers are issued with the stun grenades, which create a ‘flash-bang’.
They are considered non-lethal weapons, but can cause injuries if held when they explode – similar to a firework.
In 2006, he was among four Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department SWAT officers deployed to the Gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina.
He spent seven weeks in Waveland, Mississippi, providing help with security, transportation and labour for medical teams.