Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!

February 25, 2002
Print Comment RSS

Officer Dies During a Training Exercise

PHOENIX (AP) - Pressure in a "gas ax" used by police to break down walls and subdue suspects may have caused one of the devices to malfunction and kill an officer during a training exercise, authorities said.

Scottsdale police Sgt. Tom Hontz was killed and 11 other officers slightly injured Wednesday when the device exploded during the exercise at two vacant homes in suburban Gilbert, police said.

Authorities issued a nationwide warning to law enforcement agencies about the device and asked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to determine the cause.

"The reason the thing exploded is there was too much pressure inside of it," said Sgt. Jim Lahti, a Gilbert police spokesman. "We are investigating why."

The gas ax is used to make a hole in a wall of a room where a suspect is barricaded and emits a debilitating gas that gives police a chance to enter safely. A long metal handle is used to drive a pointed pipe through a wall. A tear gas or similar chemical cartridge is then triggered.

Hontz, 45, died a few hours after the explosion. Other officers involved in the training were treated and released, including one with shrapnel injuries from flying metal.






PoliceOne Offers

P1 on Facebook

Connect with PoliceOne

Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter Google

Get the #1 Police eNewsletter

Police Newsletter Sign up for our FREE email roundup of the top news, tips columns, videos and more, sent 3 times weekly
See Sample

Police Training Training Events