Police Officer Fred Thornton Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department North Carolina End of Watch: Friday, February 25, 2011

Photograph: Police Officer Fred ThorntonPatch image: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, North Carolina

Police Officer Fred Thornton
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
North Carolina

End of Watch: Friday, February 25, 2011

Biographical Info
Age: 50
Tour of Duty: 28 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Explosion
Date of Incident: Friday, February 25, 2011
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Officer Fred Thornton was killed when a flash-bang device detonated as he handled SWAT equipment.
He had just returned home following a SWAT call out to serve a warrant and was attempting to render his equipment safe when the flash-bang discharged, causing massive injuries. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Officer Thornton had served with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for 28 years. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Agency Contact Information
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
601 East Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Phone: (704) 336-7600
Please contact the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – An off-duty Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police SWAT officer has died after a police device exploded at his Mint Hill home.

Police say Officer Fred Thornton was doing a safety check on his equipment late Friday afternoon when the explosion happened.  He had just returned home from a SWAT mission earlier in the afternoon.

“At first thought it was a truck backfiring maybe coming down the street,” neighbor C.R. Braniff said of the explosion.  “It was really loud — irregularly loud.”

Emergency crews were called to the Thornton’s home on Tinkerton Court Friday evening around 5:35 p.m.

Upon arrival, EMS workers treated officer Thornton for life threatening injuries caused by the explosion.  He was transported to Carolinas Medical Center-Main by police escort.

Police say doctors made a heroic effort to save Thornton’s life, but the injuries were too severe.

Police say the device that exploded is called a flash-bang.  The SWAT team sometimes uses flash-bangs when entering a building.  It is called a “distraction” device and makes a bright flash and a loud bang.

According to CMPD, Officer Thornton has been with the department for more than 28 years and was assigned to the North Tryon Division.  He has been a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for 23 years.

He was the longest serving member in the SWAT team’s history.

Thornton is survived by his wife and four kids — two boys and two girls.  The youngest is 13.

“It’s just one more example of the work that we expect of our people and the risk that they’re involved in each and every day, and it’s a risk that all too often costs our members their lives,” said an emotional Chief Monroe at a press conference at police headquarters late Friday night.

An investigation into the accident is being conducted by the Mint Hill Police Department with the assistance of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

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1 Response to “Police Officer Fred Thornton Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department North Carolina End of Watch: Friday, February 25, 2011”


  1. 1 JD Watson February 26, 2011 at 14:49

    Our thoughts and prayers to the family and his fellow officers. The “thin blue line” just got thinner.


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