Special Operations Airman Shot and Killed by Florida Police During Disturbance in Apartment Building

Senior Airman Roger Fortson
Senior Airman Roger Fortson. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A special operations airman died after being shot by police near an Air Force base in the Florida panhandle Friday, and a deputy has been placed on leave as the local sheriff's office investigates the circumstances of the incident.

Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, was assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, which flies AC-130J Ghostrider gunships, and was killed after "an incident at his off-base residence" led to gunfire, according to a press release from the base.

The shooting happened after "a deputy made contact with an armed individual at an apartment" located nearly 10 miles outside of Hurlburt Field on Friday afternoon following a call of a "disturbance in progress," the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

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"Hearing sounds of a disturbance, [the deputy] reacted in self-defense after he encountered a 23-year-old man armed with a gun and after the deputy had identified himself as law enforcement," around 4:30 p.m. local time, the sheriff's office said.

No other details, including the circumstances of the disturbance that prompted the local deputies to visit the apartment building, were released. Fortson was taken to an area hospital where he later died. No officers were harmed in the incident.

The deputy involved was not identified in the news release and was "placed on paid administrative leave" pending the outcome of an investigation and administrative review, the sheriff's office said.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office recently came under scrutiny after one of its deputies resigned following an internal investigation last year of an incident in which he fired his weapon multiple times at a detained suspect after mistaking the sound of an acorn hitting the roof of his patrol vehicle as a gunshot, GulfLive.com reported.

Fortson joined the Air Force on Nov. 19, 2019, according to a copy of his service record provided to Military.com. He joined as an AC-130J gunner.

"To protect the integrity of the investigation, no other information will be released at this time," Hurlburt Field said in the press release. "The 1st Special Operations Wing's priorities are providing casualty affairs service to the family, supporting the squadron during this tragic time, and ensuring resources are available for all who are impacted." The wing is the 4th Special Operations Squadron's parent unit.

The incident in Florida follows the shooting death of another service member in Alaska on Saturday -- making two service members killed within a day of each other in unrelated events.

First Lt. Brandon Keyon Moultrie of Columbia, South Carolina, a soldier stationed at Fort Wainwright, was identified as the man who was killed after a fight happened outside a bar in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Moultrie, a bystander, was shot in the head and did not appear to be involved in the incident, the newspaper reported. Two men were arrested in connection with the incident.

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