CHARLOTTE, N.C. --
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police SWAT officer died Friday evening after being seriously injured in an accident at his home in Mint Hill.
Police identified the officer as Fred Thornton, a veteran of the force.
Thornton was on a SWAT call earlier Friday, had gone home to his house on Tinkerton Court and was checking his equipment when a "distraction device" exploded, according to police chief Rodney Monroe, who spoke at a news conference late Friday night.
A neighbor said she heard the explosion.
Monroe said Thornton suffered massive internal injuries.
Thornton was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center where doctors performed emergency surgery. Thornton later died.
Thornton was a veteran of more than 28 years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department and was the longest serving member of the SWAT team with 23 years of service.
He was hurt in 2010 when he was dragged by a DWI suspect, and spent eight months in recovery, according to a police spokesman.
Thornton provided security for Carolinas Med-1, the mobile hospital unit of Carolinas Medical Center. The unit responded to Mississippi and New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.
"He was absolutely a human person," said Scott White, a member of the CMC public relations department. "When I say human, I mean that we both felt and understood the tragedy of what people were experiencing there, and it moved him."
Thornton is survived by a wife and four children.
Monroe asked for prayers for the family.
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