TAMPA (FOX 13) - It didn't take long for word to spread through social media that Master Police Officer Fred Arnold died "unexpectedly in an out of town incident" while off duty on Sunday, according to a post on Tampa PD's Facebook page.
Tampa Police posted the following message on their Facebook page.
"We are deeply saddened to share with you that this weekend we lost one of our Tampa Police family members. Master Patrol Officer Fred Arnold passed away unexpectedly during an off duty incident. Officer Arnold proudly served the community for 27 years and volunteered countless hours to mentoring young teens in our Police Explorer program. He will truly be missed. Please keep Officer Arnold's family and friends in your thoughts."
While Tampa Police say they are still working on getting more details about the incident to release to the public, Facebook friends of MPO Arnold have begun to flood Facebook pages with posts of sympathy and mourning. Misti Howey posted that MPO Arnold died of a heart attack while on vacation.
Randy Barnwell posted the following:
"I just woke up to hear that TPD lost MPO Fred Arnold while on vacation. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with this great human being, a great police officer and friend. Always there and willing to help anyone. You will be missed. God Speed my friend."
Facebook posts seemed to indicate that Arnold was on a scuba diving vacation in Nevada. Barnwell posted that MPO Arnold was on vacation when he suffered a heart attack and that he was on a scuba trip.
Then, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area put out a news release confirming the dreaded news. They said a 48,year-old man from Florida died after scuba diving within Lake Mead National Recreation Area. They said the incident happed at 1:36 p.m. on Aug. 27 when a marine band radio call reported a diver who was submerged surfaced from the dive unconscious.
They said that personnel from the National Park Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Mercy Air and the Clark County Fire Department responded to the call but the victim could not be revived and was pronounced dead at 2:40 p.m.
And Clark County Medical Examiner released the identity of the diver as Fred Arnold. Tampa PD officials say they will have more information and pictures to release on Monday. But tonight was a night of mourning for many that knew MPO Arnold. A flag was lowered to half staff in his honor within his community.
Barry Moon, a close friend, says Arnold devoted his life to his family and serving the community."Fred was one of those type guys that if you ever met him you would never forget him," Moon said.
Moon says he met Arnold 20 years ago at a high school football came and the two became fast friends. He described him as a wonderful man.
"I've never seen him in a bad mood. Never heard him curse and I know he's never had a drink except for a half a cup of wine on the day him and SueLinda were married," said Moon.