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Woman dies after shooting self in backseat of police vehicle

Posted at 5:04 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 23:47:15-04

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. -- A woman has died after shooting herself in the back seat of a Spotsylvania County Sheriff's vehicle.

Virginia State Police are investigating the in-custody death that occurred on Monday in the City of Fredericksburg.

Just after midnight Monday morning, the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office was requested to transport a 30-year-old woman from the Mary Washington Hospital Crisis Assessment Center to Western State Hospital for evaluation.

The woman, who police say had been combative at the hospital and with the deputies, was secured and seated in the backseat of the deputy's Ford Explorer.

As the vehicle was pulling out of the hospital parking lot in Fredericksburg, the woman fired one round from a handgun that was in her possession.

Paramedics immediately responded, but she died at the scene.

Her remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond for examination and autopsy.

There is no evidence that either deputy riding in the front seat of the vehicle discharged a weapon at any time, nor was either deputy injured during the course of the incident.

This is the second time in two years that someone in custody in a Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office cruiser managed to shoot themselves.

On Aug. 16, 2018, Christopher Howard was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a patrol vehicle after he was reported as being suicidal. He managed to obtain a gun from a compartment in the vehicle and shot himself in the head.

He survived, and later filed a lawsuit claiming damages due to negligence on the part of the Sheriff's Office.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.