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2 off-duty Florida cops fatally shoot armed, naked woman

Updated: October 20, 2012 11:02PM

TAMPA, Fla. — Two off-duty Florida law-enforcement officers fatally shot an armed, naked woman who confronted them at a social gathering Saturday, authorities said.

The shooting occurred about 1:15 p.m. Saturday in Hernando County, north of Tampa. The county sheriff’s office said in a news release that

The off-duty officers were approached by an “armed, naked and irrational female,” the county sheriff’s office said in a news release.

The news release does not identify the woman’s weapon, but it said “one or both of the law enforcement officers fired their weapons, striking the female.” She died at the scene.

Both officers were placed on administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the shooting in the Spring Hill community.

Authorities have identified the officers as six-year Hernando County Sheriff’s Detective Rocky Howard and four-year Tampa Police Officer William Mechler. Tampa Police say Mechler was “off duty and acting in the capacity of a private citizen.”

Lt. Cinda Moore, a spokeswoman for the Hernando sheriff’s office, said in an email late Saturday that she could not immediately identify the woman or disclose the weapon she was carrying. She said she also could not comment on what the woman specifically said or did or whether she was told to drop the weapon, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was leading the investigation.

The Hernando County sheriff’s office does permit officers to carry service weapons when they’re off-duty, she said.

The Tampa-area shooting comes two weeks after a naked, unarmed University of South Alabama freshman was fatally shot by a campus police officer after pounding on the glass at a police station. The shooting has led to protests by students.

Police said 18-year-old Gil Collar had taken LSD and acted aggressively when an officer came outside carrying a gun. The officer repeatedly backed away from the student before firing. An attorney for the student’s family said Collar never touched the officer and the shooting never should have happened. Authorities have said a grand jury will review that shooting to determine whether charges should be filed.

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