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Dave Olson, Published October 01 2013

NDSU officer who resigned was drinking, conducting exercise when he accidentally shot himself

FARGO – A North Dakota State University police officer resigned Monday after accidentally shooting himself in the arm last month as he conducted a close-quarters shooting exercise in his apartment.

Patrick Thomas submitted his resignation Monday just as a meeting was getting underway between Thomas and campus officials, according to a statement released Tuesday by Ray Boyer, director of the university police and safety office.

According to the written statement, the meeting was an opportunity for Thomas to present information about the shooting and answer questions from department officials.

Boyer said the department accepted the resignation, which was effective immediately.

Because the accidental discharge of a firearm occurred when Thomas was off duty and because it was investigated by the Fargo Police Department, the campus police department would have no further comment on the incident and university officials consider the matter closed, Boyer said in his statement.

Thomas was hired by the university police department in November 2011.

According to Fargo police, the incident happened just before midnight on Sept. 13 in an apartment in the 3500 block of 28th Avenue South.

Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said the investigation into the shooting has been completed and no charges will be filed in what police have deemed an accidental shooting.

Police reports indicate Thomas told investigators he consumed two or three beers the night of the incident and at the time of the shooting was watching an instructional video on his computer having to do with close-quarters shooting with a handgun.

According to the report, Thomas told authorities he was doing an exercise that involved dry firing his gun while holding the muzzle against his forearm.

Having done that several times, Thomas told police he absent-mindedly inserted an ammunition clip into the gun, which he said went off the next time he attempted to dry fire it against his arm.

The police report said the bullet went through Thomas’s arm and the modem of his computer before becoming lodged in one of the walls of his apartment.

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Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555